U.S. Army Human Resources Command builds partner capacity with foreign defense attaché visit
(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT KNOX, Ky. -- The last time Lt. Gen. Rodrigo Carrasco was at Ft. Knox, Kentucky, was more than 40 years ago. He was attending elementary school while his father, a Chilean army officer, attended the Armor School.

Carrasco recently returned to Fort Knox to visit U.S. Army Human Resources Command, or HRC, as the Chilean defense and military attaché, part of a larger group of 29 defense attachés representing 25 different nations coming together for a one-day information exchange, Oct. 29.

The defense attaché program is crucial to Army efforts to exchange lessons learned from allies around the world. Currently, the Army partners with 180 defense attachés from 111 countries, based out of embassies in Washington, D.C.

"We are telling the Army story while confirming facts and cleaning up miscommunication or misperceptions," said Maj. Matthew Apostol, attaché coordinator for the U.S. Army.

As coordinator, Apostol helps plan and execute three trips per year, on behalf of the Secretary of the Army, for the defense attachés. During visits, Active Component, Reserve, and National Guard Soldiers and attachés exchange best practices and lessons learned.

Apostol said this was the first time the defense attachés had the opportunity to visit Kentucky. "People view the U.S. Army as setting the standard for human resources. Every army around the world needs an equivalent of HRC," he said, emphasizing the significance of the visit.

Talent management, and how HRC places the right Soldier in the right place at the right time, was a major topic of interest to the defense attachés.

According to him, "The added benefit of the defense attaché program is reciprocity. U.S. defense attachés overseas get to go on the same types of trips, reinforcing alliances and helping attract new partners."

Brig. Gen. Pekka Toveri, dean to the attachés and the defense, military, naval, and air attaché to the U.S. from Finland, sees major benefits to the defense attaché program. "We all learn a lot from different nations and environments. You also get to know people and start to meet the same people. It's been extremely beneficial in places like Bosnia and Afghanistan to have met someone before a deployment.

"Human resources challenges are the same across all armies," he said. "People are the most important. Tanks are useless if you don't have the right people."

Similarly, Carrasco said that while Chile has fewer soldiers, his human resources and manning issues are no different from the U.S. or Canada or any partner nation. "How do you deal with deploying married couples or make sure you place them in the same location?" he asked.

Carrasco said he was very happy to return to Ft. Knox before embarking on the defense attaches' next stop to Ft. Campbell, Kentucky, to visit and learn from the 101st Airborne Division while supporting global readiness.

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