Leavenworth Hosts Colombian Sergeant Major Academy
By Dialogo June 03, 2016
The U.S. Army Command and General Staff College (CGSC) School for Command Preparation welcomed a student delegation from the Colombian Sergeant's Major Academy from May 15th-26th.
A total of 19 students, including 16 from the Colombian Army, two from the Navy, and one from the Brazilian Army traveled from Bogota, Colombia, to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas to attend the week-long Pre-Command Course (PCC) Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) Development Program that is oriented at further developing and educating U.S. Army battalion- and brigade-level command sergeants major in the areas of leadership, critical thinking, self-assessment, and management functions.
The PCC teaching team, consisting of specially selected former battalion and brigade command sergeants major from across the U.S. Army, facilitated discussions on Mission Command, Conflict Resolution, Key Command Relationships, Positive Command Climate, Creating the Right Environment, and Building Cohesive Teams. They discussed the Army's Leader Development Strategy and incorporated a series of classroom exercises in which the Colombian Sergeants Major Academy students designed strategies for the development of subordinate Soldiers and units.
The exchange included an overview of the Colombian Army's priorities and transformation efforts, provided by Sergeant Major Mario Villamizar Martinez. He listed leader development, education, and strengthening the "human dimension" as key focus areas of Command Sergeant Major of the Army Argemiro Posso Rivera, who had planned on accompanying the group but unfortunately was unable to travel due to health concerns. "Non-Commissioned Officers and Soldiers that can quickly analyze the situation and make decisions is a critical component of a professional Army," Sgt. Maj. Villamizar said.
Command Sergeant Major David Turnbull, Combined Arms Center (CAC), welcomed the delegation and provided the visiting students with an overview of the mission, functions, and priorities of the command. Sgt. Maj. Turnbull expressed how important it was for the U.S. Army, TRADOC, and CAC to support Colombia's transformation efforts, but asked for their feedback as well: "While CAC and the School for Command Preparation put a program together for that purpose, our intent is also to learn from the Colombian experience. So please take the opportunity while you are here to share that knowledge with our NCOs."
Command Sergeant Major William B. Zaiser, U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), also was in attendance and addressed the class. In his remarks, he stressed the importance of partnerships and trust: "Learning from each other builds trust, and that is what has contributed to the long-standing relationship the United States has with Colombia."
The program also included a seminar discussion on the History of the U.S. Army NCO and an overview briefing of the U.S. Army Sergeant's Major Academy, led by Sergeant Major Jaime R. Perez. Denny L. Landes, Senior Specialist at the Training and Doctrine Command Culture Center in Fort Huachuca, Arizona, led a two-hour seminar discussion on U.S. culture that included a discussion of the various regions in the United States. The delegation also received organizational overviews from CAC-Training, the Mission Command Center of Excellence, the Center for the Army Profession and Ethic, Army Press, and Installation Management Commands Transition Services (Soldier for Life).
Throughout the two-week event, interpreters from the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC), facilitated multilingual discussions involving intricate and complex views and considerations. Maria Marrero and Ana Brewington demonstrated how professional interpreters can be the difference between successful engagement and a lost opportunity. Because of them, some of the most senior enlisted advisors in the U.S. Army and the Colombian military were able to seamlessly and effortlessly share their experiences and knowledge. "Language should never be a barrier, and a great example of that was again demonstrated this past week," said Richard Procell, WHINSEC liaison to CGSC and Fort Leavenworth.
The Colombian students were appreciative of the open and demanding education environment. "An effective, disciplined, and highly skilled Army that stands as the most formidable military force in the world is the impression that I have after realizing this very productive visit to the United States. Today, more than ever, we need references like the ones encountered at Fort Leavenworth to help us crystallize the vision of General [Alberto] Mejia [Commander of the Colombian Army] of a professional and ready Army, postured to confront the threats that the future may bring our way," said Colombian Army Sergeant Major Alfredo Bueno Marquez.
The Colombian Sergeant's Major Academy has two sessions per year. In each session there are 15 Army students, approximately four Navy and Marine students, and one international student, normally from Brazil, Chile, or Mexico. During the last month of class, the students participate in a 14-day geopolitical visit outside the country. As part of the Colombian Army's effort to further the education and development of the NCO corps, they requested to travel to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas and attend the Non-Commissioned Officer Development Program. Upon graduation, each will assume command sergeant major positions at battalion and brigade level and as senior enlisted military advisors to military and civilian leaders.
Their travel is fully funded by the Colombian Army, with administrative and logistical support from U.S. Army South (ARSOUTH). Command Sergeant Major Mike Clowser, Army University, and Command Sergeant Major Carlos Olvera, ARSOUTH, have been leading the effort this past year in support of the Chief of Staff of the Army’s priorities and in coordination with the U.S. Embassy Office of Security Cooperation in Colombia, SOUTHCOM, ARSOUTH, TRADOC, and the Department of the Army’s Headquarters.