For two weeks, noncommissioned officers (NCOs) from the Colombian Army — as well as four from Brazil — attended the bi-annual PISAJE program held in the United States. PISAJE (a Spanish acronym for Senior NCOs Integral Program) is a mil-to-mil engagement between the Colombian Military Forces and the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy.
The visit to the United States is the culmination of a five month course Colombian NCOs take before they graduate, consisting of an academic curriculum that includes tactics, logistics administration, and leadership courses.
During the first week of the U.S. visit in Fort Bliss, bordering Texas and New Mexico, participants attended briefings and panels on leadership and competencies. While in Fort Bliss, soldiers from U.S. Army South (ARSOUTH) and the Colombian and Brazilian delegations conducted physical readiness training and received an overview of the U.S. Army Basic Leader Course at the Fort Bliss Noncommissioned Officer Academy.
“Visiting Fort Bliss, we learned the educational process at their NCO academy, and that was very important for us,” said Colombian Army Sergeant Major Argemiro Posso, military senior enlisted advisor to the Joint Chief of Staff. “We’ll be able to take these lessons learned back to Colombia and embed them into our curriculum at our own academies,” he said.
“For me, the highlight was the NCO academy and their organization, professionalism, and the structure they had,” added Colombian Army Sergeant Major Carlos Arturo Gómez Rincón. “It opens the door for us to one day soon, we hope — with the support of our army commander as well as the ARSOUTH commander — to form our own future leaders and establish our own NCO academy for all of Latin America.”
Following their visit to Fort Bliss, NCOs were then brought to the U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) in Miami, Florida, for the second week where they attended briefings to learn about the interagency focus in addition to joint experiences from different components and joint staff organizations. Best practices were learned when the components gave their briefings on the operations they conduct and how they interact with the Colombian military by combatting the common threats Colombia and the United States share.
During one of the briefings, Admiral Craig S. Faller, commander of SOUTHCOM, spoke to the NCOs about the importance of the relationship the commander and the command sergeant major (CSM) must have — a relationship built upon mutual trust and honesty.
“He should be able to look me in the eye and provide me honest and candid feedback, but also tell me when I’m wrong,” Adm. Faller said, and added that a CSM should be a leader of presence and be the pulse of the organization.
During this last iteration of PISAJE, the focus was on Executive Leadership provided by the NCO Leadership Center of Excellence and Sergeants Major Academy at ARSOUTH as well as operating in a joint environment provided by the SOUTHCOM senior enlisted leaders.
The next PISAJE is scheduled for October-November.
“The plan is to continue PISAJE and obviously we follow the guidance from SOUTHCOM,” said U.S. Army Sergeant Major José Bueno of ARSOUTH’s Security Cooperation Division. “[The] United States continues to be the partner of choice because we share a lot of knowledge with them, exchange ideas, lessons learned, and they take them back and apply them to what’s best for their army.”
ARSOUTH’s mantra is “Junto Podemos” (Together We Can) and it’s a sentiment echoed by the Colombian NCOs.
“The United States and Colombia share common threats and they can always count on us to help combat those threats, said Sgt. Maj. Posso. “We have a strong alliance and a great friendship.”