LIMA, Peru - West Virginia Army National Guard Master Sgt. Ricky Baker and Sgt. 1st Class Joshua Dunlap recently completed a Subject Matter Expert Exchange (SMEE) Global Peace Operations Initiative (GPOI) mission Nov. 26 -- 30, 2018, with the Peruvian army (PERAR) to improve maintenance support for Peru's Training Center for Peace Operations and enhance non-commissioned officer (NCO) development.

This exchange is the culmination of a previous trip to Lima where three senior NCOs from the WVARNG conducted assessments on the needs and deficiencies of the current maintenance program within the PERAR.

The Peruvian army's heavy engineer company will be deploying to the Central African Republic next year and expressed the need for training on Humvees, specifically the M1165 HMMWV, from the WVARNG through the State Partnership Program (SPP). The Peruvian Armed Forces historically haven't possessed Humvees in their military inventory and have been lacking in their training on the vehicle.

The five-day engagement between the WVNG and PERAR introduced concepts of basic preventative maintenance checks and services (PMCS) at home station and in a deployed environment, as well as targeted specific issues PERAR mechanics that were previously identified as deficiencies. West Virginia mechanics provided manuals and schematics to follow up with basic maintenance, basic electrical and fuel systems class instruction and transmission troubleshooting.

"The students were great during this training event. They were very interactive and had a great thirst for knowledge," said Sgt. 1st Class Dunlap, an automotive inspector with the WVARNG Combined Support Maintenance Shop. "I think we should keep this [training] going because the Peruvian students are wanting more and there are more units in this country that will need the training as they receive newer vehicles."

Tecnico de 1ra (TCO 1) Arellano Solano, a Peruvian army mechanic with 23 years of service, expressed his gratitude for the knowledge and hopes of future expansion for the training to all PERAR maintenance personnel.

"This course has been very important as it has showed us a lot of things we didn't know," he said. "It has taught us how to use the manuals properly, proper maintenance and the proper lubricating process that every part of the equipment needs."

The WVARNG's goal is to provide the PERAR maintainers with self-sufficiency in the maintenance of the M1165 Humvee and to increase capabilities for their overseas rotations while building foundations for the NCO corps.

"I was refreshing to see how much the Peruvian mechanics wanted to learn," said Sgt. 1st Class Hector Guillen, West Virginia National Guard SPP-Peru program coordinator. "They were so engaged and asked a lot of questions, so it was great to see that partnership grow. The Peruvian Sergeant Major also visited the training to show his support on this course and to encourage his NCOs on their upcoming deployment to Africa, which was very inspiring for the mechanics."

Dunlap stated that the event was successful and it's a great partnership where he and his counterpart learned just as much from the Peruvian army as they learned from us.

Future opportunities between WVNG and Peru will incorporate more mid-career NCOs into the discussion to ensure continuity of present and future efforts to build upon the officer-NCO relationship in the Peruvian Armed Forces, as well as create a more professional and interoperable force.