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News | Nov. 22, 2022

U.S. Army South hosts professional development exchange with Colombian NCOs

By Spc. Joshua Taeckens U.S. Army South Public Affairs

The U.S. Army South-led “Programa Integral para Suboficiales de Alta Jerarquía,” or PISAJ, concluded on Nov. 18, 2022, after 13 days of training, briefings from war-fighting functions and tours of facilities between Washington, D.C., and Miami.

“PISAJ is not just an exchange focused on the personal development of the Colombian noncommissioned officers, but also the advancement of the entire Colombian NCO corps,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Ronald J. Graves,  U.S. Army South senior enlisted advisor. “It’s repetitive engagements like PISAJ that help us create a shared understanding through relationships and trust.”

PISAJ is a military-to-military engagement conducted semi-annually with the Colombian army and other invited participants as a part of a biannual agreed-to-action between the U.S. and Colombia. The program is focused on the professional development of NCOs and is designed to increase the capacity and regional collaboration between both militaries.

With this iteration’s focus on modernization and leader development, 30 students and observers from both the Colombian and Mexican armies attended briefings from senior enlisted advisors from U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command, Defense Intelligence Agency, Women’s Peace and Security, Inter-American Defense College, Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation and other military organizations.

During the program, the class visited the Pentagon, the National Defense University, Special Operations Command South, Joint Interagency Task Force South, U.S. Southern Command and several other military facilities.

The impression this iteration of PISAJ has left on attendees will further progress their personal military development as well as the modernization of their militaries overall, said Colombian Army Sgt. Maj. Eli Mosquera Cruz.

“This experience with the U.S. Army has helped me better understand the role a sergeant major plays in developing individual soldiers and the army as an institution,” said Mosquera. “The wisdom gained and success we have achieved here is not only for the individuals attending but also for the sergeants major who will serve after us.”

One of the four female senior NCOs attending this iteration of PISAJ is the first female Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman of Joint Chief of Staff of the Colombian military forces, Command Sgt. Maj. Consuelo Díaz Álvarez. She said every day her soldiers strengthen the capabilities of the Colombian NCO corps.

“Our sergeants major are leaving here stronger with wisdom and experience that will empower them to be better people and better leaders,” said Díaz. “Every day of PISAJ, we shared doctrine, reinforced our capabilities and learned lessons that will make us better advisors to the commanders of the Colombian army, and I know they will implement what they learned here to make our army stronger.”

Sgt. Maj. of the Colombian Army Mauricio Páez Acosta said the experiences and lessons learned during PISAJ are invaluable in providing a level of critical thinking necessary to lead soldiers.

“When a sergeant major comes to this program, they carry with them a different vision of how to lead their soldiers, facilitate the commander as well as how to influence the Colombian NCO corps,” said Páez. “As an advisor to the commander, we see things from a different perspective and we shine an opportunistic light on challenges he or she may face.”

Both Páez and Graves envision the expansion of involvement and planning from partner nations with a greater focus on joint and combined operations.

“We want to amplify PISAJ and provide an opportunity for other components and our partner nations to participate in order to strengthen the program, all the NCOs who attend and their military forces,” said Páez.

The next iteration of PISAJ is in the planning process and will take place in the Spring of 2023.

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