By Amber Martin | Garrison Public Affairs Office
FORT CARSON, Colo. — Huddled together over desks and laptops, advisers from 4th Security Force Assistance Brigade, worked together to share their expertise and create mission analysis briefs for notional operations in both Honduras and Peru.
A weeklong military decision-making process (MDMP) exercise was held Dec. 2-6, 2019. The event was led by three instructors with over 50 years of experience from the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC), and it provided a unique opportunity to Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 4th SFAB’s, junior NCOs.
“This particular event is important,” said 1st Sgt. Matthew Carter, Bravo Company, 1st Bn., 4th SFAB. “I have junior NCOs all the way down to sergeants, and they are having to brief on their specific war-fighting function to a seasoned, experienced lieutenant colonel. For most Junior NCOs, that’s something that they don’t (typically) do. It’s a very unique experience learning to communicate with a high-ranking officer at their level.”
Maj. Benjamin Martinez, instructor, Command and General Staff Officer’s Course (CGSOC) at WHINSEC, said this course of instruction is normally reserved for officers at the rank of major. He said even officers struggle with this training and tasks.
“I commend you for taking this on,” he said. “A multinational environment requires patience and respect.”
During a key leader engagement, the day before their mission analysis brief, Team One met with Lt. Col. Kendell Murillo, Peruvian officer and instructor, CGSOC at WHINSEC. While it is not normal for the Peruvian officers to receive briefs from junior NCOs, Sgt. 1st Class Paul Curry wanted to show the strength of the enlisted corps. Curry, assistant team leader, Bravo Company, 1st Bn., 4th SFAB, said his team’s strategy was to have each NCO on his team brief their area of expertise to Murillo to show confidence in their organization.
“I liked their reaction,” Murillo said. “They took the message … and they responded in a very good way.”
An added challenge to the training was that the 4th SFAB teams had to brief the WHINSEC officers in their country’s native language. Three teams of approximately eight Soldiers had one Spanish speaking Soldier to act as the team’s interpreter. Team One’s interpreter was Staff Sgt. Marvin Borges, signal adviser, Bravo Company, 1st Bn., 4th SFAB.
“For me, it was pretty interesting that I had the opportunity to interpret for the team,” said Borges. “It went pretty fluid in my opinion. With more practice it will come more natural.”
Staff Sgt. Patrick Olvecky, fire support adviser, Bravo Company, 1st Bn., 4th SFAB, said the team worked together to compile the information it received during the key leader engagement to create the mission overview.
The 4th SFAB’s intent is to ensure the partners it is working with can seamlessly conduct operations on their own, by providing guidance and instruction.
“Basically, we are trying to enable them to do a better job in successfully completing their operation,” said Olvecky.
Capt. Miguel Moyeno, officer in charge, Bravo Company, 1st Bn., 4th SFAB, said planning and negotiations are an integral part of the process.
“They’re looking at the cues of who they’re negotiating with and understanding that their (foreign partners) are negotiating, too,” said Moyeno.
The goal is to establish red lines before the negotiation and leave with a win, or at least a win for both sides and get another negotiation later if necessary, Moyeno explained.
An example of an issue Team One addressed during its brief was the logistics of getting the Peruvian army uniforms. The team’s logistical adviser told Murillo that he wanted to get with his army’s supply section to ensure uniforms were being issued properly to his forces. He explained that by collaborating with Murillo’s supply section, he could help identify where the hang-up was, and help fix this concern.
Feedback during and after the brief further allowed Team One to understand specific cultural cues local to Peru and the Peruvian army. The team learned that the Peruvian army operates under different timelines and reports weather in Celsius not Fahrenheit. Understanding the importance of these small details are the fundamentals of being an adviser, Carter said.
“I feel like (Lt. Col. Carlos Zavala’s, Honduran officer and instructor, CGSOC at WHINSEC) feedback was really productive,” said Curry.
“I think there were points where we were in the right area, but didn’t understand the essential tasks involved in that. He was able to clarify a lot of things for us. Moving forward we will have a better understanding for the next portion of this operation.”
The feedback the team received from the WHINSEC officers allowed them to regroup and prepare a course of action development brief. The exercise closed out with another after action review and more feedback from the WHINSEC officers.
Moyeno said the collaborative training between Bravo Company, 1st Bn., 4th SFAB, and WHINSEC created a strong partnership between both organizations. This type of training prepares the advisers to train as they fight and master the fundamentals of advising.
“With this training, they are getting some experience having a realistic environment, which they will face in the area we are going (notionally),” said Zavala. “This is a way to prepare them to face the pressure in certain situations.”