Though bilateral and multinational training exercises are the norm for strengthening relationships with partner nation armies, another important way the U.S. Army builds partnerships is by sharing lessons learned to improve the institutional, operational and tactical capabilities.
As part of maintaining its professional dialogue with the senior leadership of the Guatemalan Army, U.S. Army South and the Center for Army Lessons Learned (CALL), conducted a virtual Army Lessons Learned Program (ALLP) Development Seminar May 13-14, with the Guatemalan Army and Command for Education of the Armed Forces of Guatemala (COSEDE) in order to assist the army in establishing its own lessons learned center.
Facilitated by Keith Warman, CALL military analyst forward and liaison officer at Army South, and Jeff Baker, CALL military analyst at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., discussions included how the Guatemalan Army envisions leveraging the ALLP’s methodology and processes to update doctrine, support army-wide modernization, and to employ available resources more wisely.
“Since 2018, U.S. Army South and CALL have supported Guatemala’s efforts in developing lessons learned capabilities to enhance multinational interoperability and mutual readiness between our two armies,” Warman said.
According to its mission statement, CALL leads the Army Lessons Learned Program and delivers timely and relevant information to resolve gaps, enhance readiness and inform modernization. In addition, CALL supports the Army’s international security cooperation programs by conducting lessons learned seminars, courses, and engagements, both in and outside the continental United States.
“The exchange clearly demonstrates U.S. Army South and CALL’s commitment to building trust, strengthening partnerships and building partner capacity in Guatemala,” Warman said.
Viewed as a non-threatening, low-risk enabler in building partnership capacity by geographic combatant commands and Army Service component commands, CALL’s regional lessons learned engagements with unified action partners serve as a valuable tool in a theater’s security cooperation strategy.
The Guatemalan Army Deputy Director of the Theater Management Center of the National Defense Staff Operations Directorate, Col. Andres Ismalej Chen, led the Guatemalan Army partner participation, along with three other directors across National Defense Staff Operations and Doctrine and Technology.
Some of the major challenges the Guatemalan Army faces in its lessons learned process, is heavy turnover of personnel and limited human resources solely devoted to conducting these processes.
“This process is very necessary and should be the responsibility of a dedicated staff,” Chen said. “We can no longer continue with this lessons learned idea unless we have an organization structure with people, resources and experts in the areas we need to be looking at to improve.”
Warman suggested the Guatemalans identify a dedicated officer to be the director with dedicated staff who could establish a lessons learned center and encourage the participants to consider where the facility will be located and what echelon the lessons learned center will be in the army or joint-level to conduct the processes.
“Our one goal for you is that you become fully operational capable in your lessons learned function,” Warman said.
The seminar ended with a commitment to meet again with CALL, in July 2021, with the ultimate goal of establishing a Guatemalan Army Lessons Learned Center in the future.
Chen emphasized in establishing a lessons learned center, the Guatemalan Army will improve its capability in documenting successes, “not only operational but administrative.”
“This event was important because we have a process for lessons learned; however, this process has become obsolete because of the changes in our doctrine,” Chen said. “This process is good for the army to show the work we do, and unless we highlight our positive results, we will not make any inroads towards improvement.”