U.S. Marine Corps Master Gunnery Sergeant Jerome N. Root, command senior enlisted leader, Special Operations Command South (SOCSOUTH), spoke with Diálogo during the Senior Enlisted Leaders Seminar, held during Fuerzas Comando 2019, June 24-28 in Santiago, Chile, where he shared his views on the professional development of noncommissioned officers (NCOs) and partnering with the region to address common goals.
Diálogo: How do you see the evolution of the sergeant major role over the years?
U.S. Marine Corps Master Gunnery Sergeant Jerome N. Root, command senior enlisted leader, Special Operations Command South: The evolution of the command senior enlisted leader’s role over the years has grown exponentially. I use the title command senior enlisted leader because we work in a joint/multinational environment with many different ranks for senior enlisted leaders. I see a greater emphasis being placed on them to be at, or near, the point of decision-making at critical times, to provide their commander with an unbiased assessment.
Diálogo: Why is it important to focus on NCOs’ professional development?
Master Gunnery Sgt. Root: There continues to be an increased need for professional development through advanced education based on the NCO’s role. As the executors and the backbone within the military, we operationalize the commander’s intent. We need commanders at all levels to embrace our desire for higher education, so that we can better serve them and the troops we are entrusted with.
Diálogo: Why is it important that NCOs from Latin America and the Caribbean work together toward the same goals?
Master Gunnery Sgt. Root: We all need to work toward common goals. It’s important because doing so, allows us to develop better interoperability, a shared understanding, and makes us more effective. Strengthening our partnerships, countering threats, and building our team will not be achieved if we do not share the same goals for the region.
Diálogo: How does SOCSOUTH contribute to the development of NCOs in Latin America?
Master Gunnery Sgt. Root: SOCSOUTH contributes to the development of the NCOs by leveraging U.S. Special Operations Command’s (USSOCOM) institutions such as the Joint Special Operations University (JSOU) and the Naval Small Craft Instruction and Technical Training School (NAVSCIATTS). We are also providing broadening tours for NCOs as foreign liaison officers and international instructors, once only reserved for officers. We continue advancing our efforts to send our partner Special Operations Forces (SOF) senior enlisted leaders to JSOU’s Joint Special Operations Senior Enlisted Advisor course. This is equivalent to the United States Army Sergeants Major Academy’s course, placing our SOF NCOs in the lead at every opportunity.
Diálogo: What kind of exchanges does SOCSOUTH engage in with NCOs in Latin America?
Master Gunnery Sgt. Root: NCO development exchanges are being executed in two, three-week seminars at two levels (basic and advanced). These seminars are currently only available in Colombia. We are attempting to get others involved, but it requires commitment and a desire from the country for NCO development that is SOF specific. These exchanges are not only for the operator, but also for every specialty that supports SOF forces (enablers/service support) and fill out our formations.
Diálogo: Regarding the study of languages and international exchanges, do you consider them fundamental for further advance in the NCO’s career?
Master Gunnery Sgt. Root: They are extremely important, fundamental for further advancement in an NCO’s career. As U.S. Special Operations Forces, we do a great job of working in the native language of our partners. Our partners should equally focus on English. It brings us closer and affords them greater opportunities to attend USSOCOM training courses and educational courses as well as better integration in multinational forces where the standard language is English.