FORT BENNING, Georgia – Senior non-commissioned officers from U.S. Army South, Colombia, Brazil and Mexico gathered at Fort Benning, Ga. to strengthen partnerships during the 16th iteration of the “Programa Integral para Sub-Oficiales de Alta Jerarquía” or PISAJ taking place April 25 to May 6.
This semi-annual, military-to-military engagement with the Colombian army is part of a biannual agreed-to-action between the U.S. and Colombia and is designed to increase the capacity and regional collaboration between both militaries. This year's focus is to build upon senior leader competencies and instill the necessity of joint operations in a complex world.
So far, 47 senior non-commissioned officers from Colombia, Brazil and Mexico participated in command briefs with senior enlisted leaders from U.S. Southern Command components and took part in training focused on equal opportunity, sexual harassment/assault response and prevention and gender integration.
“They have a similar gender integration program and they are trying to figure out how our program operates and what changes they want to make toward improving,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Ronald J. Graves, senior enlisted advisor for Army South. “They asked great questions, and I’m extremely impressed with the discussions that took place.”
Sgt. Maj. of the Colombian Army, William Cuellar Duarte, said the engagement is valuable when it comes to building capacity.
“This is a great opportunity and our enlisted leaders are privileged to come here and receive all of this training,” said Cuellar. “When they return to Colombia, they can pass on this knowledge to their soldiers, non-commissioned officers and officers.”
Graves also encouraged Cuellar and other participants to come together in planning and possibly hosting future iterations of PISAJ in Colombia.
“We want them to take the lead on their professional military education and explain to us how we can help them move forward,” said Graves.
Cuellar said this new level of involvement in the planning of PISAJ will be a big step in the strengthening of the U.S. and Colombian military partnership.
“We are going to analyze, plan and then meet with Command Sgt. Maj. Graves about how we can develop this program so Colombia can host it in the future,” said Cuellar. “This is a big step in Colombia for our sergeant major and non-commissioned officer development.”
PISAJ 16 will continue with additional training, visits to the U.S. Army Armor School, a security forces assistance brigade, and a basic combat training graduation.