FORT BENNING, Georgia – The U.S. Army South led “Programa Integral para Suboficiales de Alta Jerarquía”, or PISAJ, concluded yesterday after 11 days of training, tactical demonstrations and cultural outings here on base.
“Over the past two weeks, our partner nation sergeants major have focused on building senior leader competencies and the necessity of joint operations in our complex world,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Ronald J. Graves, the senior enlisted advisor at Army South. “I challenge this class to take what they learned here to make our partnership stronger and all of our non-commissioned officers better.”
PISAJ is a military-to-military engagement conducted semi-annually with the Colombian army and other invited participants as a part of a biannual agreed-to-action between the U.S. and Colombia focused on NCOs and designed to increase the capacity and regional collaboration between both militaries.
With this year's focus in mind, students attended briefings on equal opportunity, sexual harassment/assault response and prevention, gender integration, human resources, as well as Joint Forces briefings from U.S. Southern Command and its components, Inter-American Air Forces Academy and the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation.
The class also visited several schools and training centers on Fort Benning including the Security Forces Assistance Brigade.
The 43 Colombian, three Brazilian and one Mexican NCOs were pleased with the content of this iteration as it will assist with their personal military development as well as the development of their military overall.
“One lesson that I want to take back is the level of confidence that leaders have in their subordinates to perform their duties and accomplish the mission, and in turn, subordinates will have confidence in their leader,” said Mexican army soldier, 1st Sgt. Alvaro Lobato Juárez. “I have attended WHINSEC before, and I thought I had learned all I could from the U.S. Army but I realize there is a lot more.”
One of the four female senior NCOs attending this iteration of PISAJ, Colombian army soldier, Sgt. Maj. Olga Lucía Velasco Carabali, was grateful for the support of the U.S. Armed Forces through partner nation collaborative activities like this and said this experience was invaluable.
“I gained a lot of experience, knowledge and motivation from PISAJ 16,” said Velasco. “My key takeaway from this experience was how to give the knowledge and capabilities to my subordinates in order to help our commander and our soldiers. This has been a very positive experience and this is going to be a very important tool we can use in our units back home.”
While the experiences and lessons learned have been invaluable, Graves envisions the expansion of involvement and planning from our partners with a greater focus on joint operations.
“Our goal is to continue participation with Colombia, Brazil and Mexico, yet attract additional partners from other Caribbean, Central and South American forces of all branches of military,” said Graves. “We have asked Sgt. Maj. of the Colombian Army, William Cuellar Duarte, to give us five priorities in where he wants to continue developing his NCO corps and senior enlisted sergeants major. Then we will focus our briefings, discussions and, for the first time, introduce working groups while having U.S. and partner nation sergeants major working together to develop courses.”