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News | Nov. 30, 2017

Massachusetts partnership promotes NCO development with Paraguay

By Master Sgt. Kerri Spero, 102nd Intelligence Wing

ASUNCIÓN, Paraguay – Noncommissioned Officers are the backbone of any military establishment. Today’s NCOs also serve as positive, community role models at both their home duty station, and overseas.

Master Sgt. Miguel, Massachusetts Air National Guard Senior NCO, shared his knowledge and experience with 105 Paraguayan SNCOs during a five-day Subject Matter Expert Exchange, Oct. 30 to Nov. 3, 2017. The overarching goal of the workshop was to create an exchange that will enhance the Paraguayan SNCO corps.

In an effort to foster positive foreign relations and build strong military and personnel relationships, Massachusetts and Paraguay established a successful security cooperation relationship in 2001 under the National Guard Bureau’s State Partnership Program.

Since then, numerous exchanges have taken place between the MANG and Paraguay’s armed forces to share experiences and best practices in a variety of military training and topics. The Senior NCO Subject Matter Expert Exchange was a key engagement in this year’s partnership with Paraguay.

“My topic of discussion was about the differences between being a boss and a leader”, said Miguel. “We discussed various leadership styles, levels of leadership and how to be an effective leader by identifying the important differences between bosses and leaders.”

During the week-long exchange, Subject Matter Experts from U.S. Army Southern Command, Inter-American Air Forces Academy, Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation and the Massachusetts Air National Guard came together and provided Paraguayan SNCOs information about the role of enlisted members in the military. Topics discussed throughout the week included the enlisted force structure, promotions, professional military education, performance feedback and evaluation processes and career development.

“From the very start of the event, each Subject Matter Expert brought energy and enthusiasm event and demonstrated eagerness to share information with the attendees,” said Miguel, “The SME’s drew the attendees in to exchange their own experiences and difficulties in leadership in the Paraguayan military as a SNCO with open-ended questions.” Miguel believes this strategy increased the number of participants’ response to each situation.

The team used combinations of basic Professional Military Education principles, from all branches of the U.S. military, to guide the foundation of topics discussed during the engagement."

“We are seeing progression. When I went there a couple years ago, it was very hard to get [the Paraguayan NCOs] to talk and be involved and share,” said Miguel.

The process has involved months of coordination and meetings with the Senior Enlisted members of the Paraguayan forces to learn about their history and goals.

“Their hospitality was very memorable,” Miguel acknowledges, “Their leadership is very involved and asking us what we need and how they can make things better. They show their interest in the program. This shows that they want to continue to exchange with us in Massachusetts.”

The commonwealth formalized a partnership with Paraguay in 2001. Since its inception, the Massachusetts National Guard has completed more than 100 exchanges with Paraguay, ranging from humanitarian assistance and disaster relief to maintenance, emergency management, engineering, and Army and Air Force aviation. In 2015, Kenya became Massachusetts’ second state partner.

“The 102nd Intelligence Wing has been an integral partner to the joint activities conducted with Paraguay, contributing to medical, emergency management, and Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance lines of effort and have likewise played a significant role in our first few years of building a relationship with Kenya,” said Col. Ryan Floyd, Massachusetts National Guard SPP Program Manager, “The SPP relies on the service commitment and volunteerism of soldiers and airmen to participate in activities that are outside their normal duty responsibilities. The success of the SPP which contributes to the achievement of Combatant Command objectives and national interests, could not be realized without people like Master Sgt. [Miguel]."

The National Guard’s State Partnership Program has been successfully building relationships for over 20 years and includes 73 unique security partnerships involving 79 nations around the globe. SPP links a unique component of the Department of Defense – a state's National Guard – with the armed forces or equivalent of a partner country in a cooperative, mutually beneficial relationship.

[Editor’s note: Master Sgt. Miguel’s last name has been omitted for security purposes.]