Strategic Training with a Comprehensive Approach

Strategic Training with a Comprehensive Approach

By Geraldine Cook/Diálogo
July 27, 2018

The Mariscal José Félix Estigarribia Paraguayan Army Command and General Staff College (ECEME, in Spanish) offers decision-making, operations management, leadership, and operational strategies and tactics among its professional training for military personnel. “We train senior officers with the rank of major to be the future commanders, directors, and advisors to commanders,” said Paraguayan Army Colonel Mario Centurión, commandant of ECEME.

“[ECEME] is the highest-level educational institution in the Paraguayan Army,” Col. Centurión said. The institution offers the Command and General Staff course, which trains officers in efficient command, leadership, management, general staff functions, and advisory roles for military organizations in the Army.

“We want to produce a roadmap to prepare officers for the future and truly honor our motto: ‘Leadership and Projection,’” said Paraguayan Army Colonel Roberto Manuel Piñanez, deputy commandant of ECEME. “We prepare them to face conventional conflicts and new asymmetrical threats.”

Founded in 1929 as the War College, the institution—located within the premises of the Army Command in Asunción—was rebranded ECEME in 1969. In 2005, the academy took on the name of Mariscal José Félix Estigarribia, a decorated war hero and 34th president of Paraguay. The Ministry of Education and Science recognizes the military academy as an accredited institution of higher education to award master’s degrees in military sciences since 2004.

Active and participatory education

The two-year Command and General Staff course is divided into basic and advanced levels of one year each. Once officers graduate, they receive a Command and General Staff degree. In December 2017, ECEME had about 1,500 graduate officers.

“Before joining ECEME, students anticipate doing things by following a guide,” said Paraguayan Army Major Hugo Yamanishi, a second-year student. “The course teaches us to interpret and better understand the commander’s intent to focus our efforts. It also provides a more critical and analytical view of every aspect of an operation, which reflects our evolution as officers.”

“ECEME uses the educational philosophy under the doctrines of Constructivism,” said Col. Piñarez. “It’s an active, practical, and objective education in which real problems are raised within a particular situation to stimulate critical thinking.”

The course is not mandatory for officers. However, it is crucial to advance in the military career. “This course is a must for me. I want to reach a rank that will give me an important position,” said Paraguayan Army Major Lino Britez, a second-year student. “The body of knowledge is invaluable. The doctrine and the critical and analytical part to solve specific situations, are essential.” For Maj. Britez, interaction with classmates is also important, since students’ different experiences serve as learning tools.

Institutional projections

ECEME seeks to have an international presence. “We want to be open to the command schools of other countries,” Col. Centurión said. The school has Argentinean and Brazilian instructors, and talks are underway to begin exchanges with Colombia. “Having foreign instructors allows us to see how other armies work, and this gives us a wider perspective,” Maj. Yamanishi said. “This is a very valuable initiative.”

Other projects aim to improve the quality of education. “We have classes in a traditional classroom, conduct field exercises, and promote teamwork among our students,” said Paraguayan Army Colonel Alberto Brítez Maidana, head of ECEME’s Division of Education and Operations. “We want to update our library and create a digital library that allows us to connect with other libraries in the country and with command schools of other countries.”

Other courses focus on doctrinal updates for professors, lectures and seminars on defense and national development, and academic exchanges with other institutions. ECEME is undergoing an accreditation process with the National Council of Higher Education for its new Master in Planning and Leading Military Operations. The institution also prepares plans and programs to train in joint and interagency operations.

The Mariscal José Félix Estigarribia Paraguayan Army Command and General Staff College (ECEME, in Spanish) offers decision-making, operations management, leadership, and operational strategies and tactics among its professional training for military personnel. “We train senior officers with the rank of major to be the future commanders, directors, and advisors to commanders,” said Paraguayan Army Colonel Mario Centurión, commandant of ECEME.

“[ECEME] is the highest-level educational institution in the Paraguayan Army,” Col. Centurión said. The institution offers the Command and General Staff course, which trains officers in efficient command, leadership, management, general staff functions, and advisory roles for military organizations in the Army.

“We want to produce a roadmap to prepare officers for the future and truly honor our motto: ‘Leadership and Projection,’” said Paraguayan Army Colonel Roberto Manuel Piñanez, deputy commandant of ECEME. “We prepare them to face conventional conflicts and new asymmetrical threats.”

Founded in 1929 as the War College, the institution—located within the premises of the Army Command in Asunción—was rebranded ECEME in 1969. In 2005, the academy took on the name of Mariscal José Félix Estigarribia, a decorated war hero and 34th president of Paraguay. The Ministry of Education and Science recognizes the military academy as an accredited institution of higher education to award master’s degrees in military sciences since 2004.

Active and participatory education

The two-year Command and General Staff course is divided into basic and advanced levels of one year each. Once officers graduate, they receive a Command and General Staff degree. In December 2017, ECEME had about 1,500 graduate officers.

“Before joining ECEME, students anticipate doing things by following a guide,” said Paraguayan Army Major Hugo Yamanishi, a second-year student. “The course teaches us to interpret and better understand the commander’s intent to focus our efforts. It also provides a more critical and analytical view of every aspect of an operation, which reflects our evolution as officers.”

“ECEME uses the educational philosophy under the doctrines of Constructivism,” said Col. Piñarez. “It’s an active, practical, and objective education in which real problems are raised within a particular situation to stimulate critical thinking.”

The course is not mandatory for officers. However, it is crucial to advance in the military career. “This course is a must for me. I want to reach a rank that will give me an important position,” said Paraguayan Army Major Lino Britez, a second-year student. “The body of knowledge is invaluable. The doctrine and the critical and analytical part to solve specific situations, are essential.” For Maj. Britez, interaction with classmates is also important, since students’ different experiences serve as learning tools.

Institutional projections

ECEME seeks to have an international presence. “We want to be open to the command schools of other countries,” Col. Centurión said. The school has Argentinean and Brazilian instructors, and talks are underway to begin exchanges with Colombia. “Having foreign instructors allows us to see how other armies work, and this gives us a wider perspective,” Maj. Yamanishi said. “This is a very valuable initiative.”

Other projects aim to improve the quality of education. “We have classes in a traditional classroom, conduct field exercises, and promote teamwork among our students,” said Paraguayan Army Colonel Alberto Brítez Maidana, head of ECEME’s Division of Education and Operations. “We want to update our library and create a digital library that allows us to connect with other libraries in the country and with command schools of other countries.”

Other courses focus on doctrinal updates for professors, lectures and seminars on defense and national development, and academic exchanges with other institutions. ECEME is undergoing an accreditation process with the National Council of Higher Education for its new Master in Planning and Leading Military Operations. The institution also prepares plans and programs to train in joint and interagency operations.
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