Colombia Celebrates Milestone in NCO Development

Colombia takes a step forward in professionalizing its NCO corps.
By U.S. Army Sergeant 1st Class Alex Ramos, U.S. Special Operations Command South Public Affairs | 20 March 2019

Capacity Building

Colombian senior noncommissioned officers selected for training pose with their instructors after an opening ceremony for the Advanced Joint Special Operations Forces NCO Course, held in Tolemaida, Colombia, March. 4, 2019. The course lasts three weeks and is a significant step to implement NCO professional development within regional partner nations. (Photo: U.S. Army Sergeant 1st Class Alex Ramos, SOCSOUTH Public Affairs)

Colombia’s Joint Special Operations Command (CCOE in Spanish) took a significant step in professionally developing its noncommissioned officer (NCO) corps. On March 4, 2019, a ceremony in Tolemaida, Colombia, inaugurated a course to bridge the gap between officer and NCO.

“I want to thank the United States, which kindly dedicated itself to help establish this course through their former sergeants major, who were part of special operations and are instructing the course,” said Colombian Air Force (FAC) Brigadier General Fernando L. Losada Montoya, FAC’s chief of Aeronautical Education. “For us, it’s very important that our NCOs are able to receive this type of training. They have experience in combat, and they bring a lot of expertise with them. They will not only offer great input to this course, but bring with them that experience to help our military.”

Guest speakers attended the event, including U.S. Marine Corps Sergeant Major Brian K. Zickefoose, U.S. Southern Command’s (SOUTHCOM) senior enlisted leader. “U.S. Southern Command commander’s [U.S.Navy Admiral Craig S. Faller] number one line of effort is about building the team, our team,” said Sgt. Maj. Zickefoose.

Colombian senior noncommissioned officers selected for training listen to guest speakers during the opening ceremony for the Advanced Joint Special Operations Forces NCO Course, held in Tolemaida, Colombia, March. 4, 2019. (Photo: U.S. Army Sergeant 1st Class Alex Ramos, SOCSOUTH Public Affairs)

“At SOUTHCOM and SOCSOUTH [Special Operations Command South], we’re committed to helping CCOE NCOs, and it starts with these courses. This is not a tactical course, this is a strategic course. [It’s] communication at a different level.” Sgt. Major Zickefoose also described what the course would provide to the senior NCOs selected for the first iteration of the Advanced Joint Special Operations Forces (JSOF) course. 

U.S. Marine Corps Master Gunnery Sergeant Otto E. Hecht, senior enlisted leader for the Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command’s Marine Raider Training Center, at Camp LeJeune, North Carolina, described the responsibilities of the senior NCO and what the course means to CCOE’s future NCOs. “The senior staff NCO is someone who is disciplined, who has been trained, and has upheld the standard for a very long time,” said Master Gunnery Sgt. Hecht. “The senior staff NCO is the backbone of any military organization, the one who carries out the commander’s intent and figures out how to make it work when things are challenging and when there is doubt. Ultimately, you are leaders and this course will give you the training and education to help you become a better leader.”

Nineteen senior NCOs were selected for CCOE’s Advanced JSOF course. Both the basic and advanced courses can accommodate between 18 and 25 students. The basic course lasts two weeks, and the advanced course lasts three weeks.

“It’s the first of its kind,” said U.S. Army Master Sergeant Justin R. Daniels, SOCSOUTH’s planner of the JSOF NCO courses. “This course will provide the educational curriculum designed to help reach objectives in the area of operations.” The overall goal of the course, concluded Master Sgt. Daniels, is to train the trainer so that the students will one day become the teachers.

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