Members of the Kentucky National Guard (KYNG) participated in a Senior Enlisted Leader Seminar with 21 members of the Ecuadorian Armed Forces from March 20 – 24, 2023 in Quito, Ecuador.
This seminar was conducted as an engagement through the State Partnership Program. The first of its kind in the KYNG and Ecuadorian partnership’s nearly 30-year trajectory, focused solely on sharing noncommissioned officer (NCO) competencies, capabilities, and leadership responsibilities.
Some of the topics covered by the KYNG members were Army and Air Force Enlisted Structure, NCO core competencies and attributes, Air Force enlisted blueprint, enlisted evaluation system and promotions, and the role of a first sergeant.
“Listening to the delegation share how they advise, share ideas, look out for the welfare of personnel and develop leaders has been much appreciated,” said Sergeant Major David Roberto Villon, assistant to the Commanding General of the Ecuadorian Army.
The Ecuadorian participants gave presentations on their respective enlisted structure, NCO roles and responsibilities, and institutional training. These presentations provided the KYNG members insight into the stringent process and prerequisites for promotion and continued service in the Ecuadorian military.
“The Ecuadorian NCOs are professionals of the highest degree,” said Command Sergeant Major Jesse Withers, Kentucky State senior enlisted advisor. “Your commanders should be proud to have you, your knowledge, your experience, your professionalism, desire to accomplish the mission and take care of your soldiers.”
In addition to joint classroom briefs, attendees received several tours of Ecuadorian Army units centrally located in Quito and its outskirts. During the visit to Infantry Brigade No. 13 Pichincha, the KYNG delegation was able to speak to a group of Ecuadorian Army soldiers attending their NCO training to ascend to the senior NCO ranks.
“We started to go in a direction with this seminar that we haven’t been before, which was to explain why senior enlisted leaders are essential to build a command team with their officers,” said First Sergeant Naarah Stallard, the senior enlisted for the 223rd Military Police Company based in Louisville, Kentucky. “In conducting this engagement, we were able to get to know the individuals on a personal level, from stories about their families to what was their motivation and passion that led them to serve and continue serving their country.”
These tours, and the seminar, were mutually beneficial for the members of the KYNG and their Ecuadorian counterparts. In addition to the exchange of information between countries, this engagement provided a unique setting for senior NCOs from the Ecuadorian Armed Forces branches to gather and share experiences on an interpersonal level.
“More than just exchanging information, I’m taking great awareness on matters of leadership back to have a multiplying effect on our subordinates,” said Ecuadorian Navy Master Chief Petty Officer Holen Alvarado Montalvo, senior crew advisor for the Navy. “The best we can do as experienced military members is to execute the famed transfer of knowledge which is part of the legacy that senior NCOs leave to the new generations.”
“This has been an experience to learn and grow from you,” said Sgt. Maj. Withers. “It has been an honor to be here in the presence of those who also answered the call to serve their country with dignity and honor.”