Diálogo: You are the first Joint Command sergeant major of the Colombian Armed Forces. What's the significance of this promotion?
Colombian Armed Forces’ Joint Command Sergeant Major Argemiro Posso Rivera: I was promoted in March 2018, and it's an honor and great responsibility for me to be the first NCO promoted to this position. When I took on this role, I set two challenges for myself. The first is to facilitate more education and training for the new generations of NCOs so that they can reach this leadership position. The second is to request and make the sergeant major promotion possible for each branch of the country's Armed Forces.
Diálogo: What's the importance of an NCO?
Sgt. Major Posso: NCOs are the backbone of the military, because we are the commander's right hand so he can fulfill his goal and the mission ordered by the State. Colombian NCOs are privileged, because our generals, admirals, and officers support us, since they recognize that an educated, professional NCO body results in successful missions.
Diálogo: How have NCOs progressed in Colombia?
Sgt. Major Posso: The professional development of NCOs in Colombia started in 2003, with the first honorary appointed command sergeant majors. In 2006, the career path decree of NCOs changed and the command sergeant major and joint command sergeant major ranks were created. Our professional development is due to the support of our strategic partners, U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) and U.S. Army South (ARSOUTH).
Diálogo: What can you tell us about the Senior NCOs Integral Program (PISAJE, in Spanish)?
Sgt. Major Posso: PISAJE is a six-month program to enable promotion to command sergeant major. The goal is to provide NCOs with new techniques, logistics management, leadership, and knowledge about national security and defense, so that they can support the commander in decision-making. PISAJE has been around for more than 13 years, conducting biannual visits to the United States and receiving NCOs from the region. We expect PISAJE to strengthen even more to allow new NCO generations to reach leadership positions.
Diálogo: What's the plan to continue with NCO training?
Sgt. Major Posso: We are working to shore up the Colombian Sergeants Major Academy, so that all NCOs from our country’s military forces can attend and study there and for Colombia to become a regional benchmark. We hope this will be possible with the help of SOUTHCOM and ARSOUTH.
Diálogo: What was the role of NCOs in the Colombian peace process?
Sgt. Major Posso: The strategy of negotiating with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia resulted from teamwork led by our officers in the Colombian military forces. There's no question that the NCO corps played an important role. We understood the commander's goal and mission and helped him to accomplish it successfully. However, we had to pay a high price, because we lost about 6,000 soldiers in 54 years of internal conflict in Colombia, and more than 32,000 lost body parts in the battlefield.
Diálogo: What's the importance of the joint work conducted by NCOs in the region?
Sgt. Major Posso: It’s important to work together to share experiences and lessons learned. NCOs have the United States as our strategic partner, and together we can provide new professionalization channels, so that we can have better trained and educated officers that can confront common threats in the region, such as narcotrafficking, illegal mining, arms trafficking, money laundering, and support humanitarian assistance operations.