CHARLESTON, W. Va. - The West Virginia National Guard hosted senior enlisted leaders (SELs) from the Peruvian army, navy and air force for the first time in its State Partnership Program (SPP) history last week where they were afforded insight into how the WVNG utilizes the non-commissioned officer corps (NCOs) in the Army and Air National Guard.
Técnico Jefe Superior Pedro Espinoza, sergeant major of the Peruvian Army; Técnico Supervisor Maestro Cesar Alejandro Cueva, master chief petty officer of the Peruvian Navy; Técnico Supervisor Fuerza Aérea del Perú Yuri Jose Segura, general director of education and doctrine for the Peruvian Air Force; and Técnico de 3ra Elsa Ocampo, department of human resources for the Peruvian Army, joined West Virginia Army National Guard Command Sgt. Maj. Phillip Cantrell and West Virginia Air National Guard Command Chief Master Sgt. James Dixon, among other WVNG SPP and U.S. Army South leaders for the four-day visit.
West Virginia National Guard leadership provided the Peruvians with face-to-face interactions with Army and Air Force NCOs within the organization to showcase the importance of our enlisted corps. Additionally, they were introduced to concepts for NCO professional development planning, operations and instruction methods used by the Army and Air Force in West Virginia.
"Our success as an organization, as the West Virginia National Guard, is based on the fact that we invest heavily in developing a strong non-commissioned officer corps," said Hoyer. "Having studied about the Peruvian region and having been involved with the State Partnership Program for a number of years, I know how important Peru is to the region. We want our partnership to help continue to grow a strong non-commissioned officer corps in the Peruvian military because we know that it will help Peru continue to be a strong leader in the region."
As a part of the trip, the Peruvian SELs also attended the Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States (EANGUS) 47th Annual conference, which was held in Charleston from Aug. 11th through 15th, as special guests of the WVNG. The EANGUS conference brought together more than 1,000 National Guardsmen from the 54 states and territories.
The Peruvian delegation were also provided information on how the WVNG works with state agencies for domestic response to emergencies; a capabilities demonstration and brief of Camp Dawson, the Regional Training Institute, and the Summit Bechtel Reserve site; and also witnessed the West Virginia Swift Water Rescue Team training.
"The importance that I have as a command sergeant major of the Peruvian Army and that we have as senior leaders in Peru is that we are the backbone of the Army," said Espinoza, who is the fourth sergeant major of the Peruvian army. "We are trying to come to West Virginia to gain their knowledge and experience and so we can see the whole organizational structure so we can try to better ourselves and our organization as well. We'll utilize this [trip] for us to better ourselves day by day."
Prior to departing, WVNG key leaders exchanged ideas with the Peruvian SELs on future engagements between the two forces with specific emphasis on future development opportunities for the enlisted force as well as female integration and NCO development.
The West Virginia National Guard made history by welcoming all the SELs from each branch of the Peruvian Armed Forces, without any Peruvian general officer representation, marking a significant step within the West Virginia-Peru SPP relationship.
The West Virginia/Peru SPP was formalized in 1996. In just over 20 years, Peru and West Virginia have partnered together for more than 120 interactions between the forces providing insight into regional challenges facing the Andean Ridge, especially in the areas of counter-insurgency, anti-terrorism, emergency preparedness, risk mitigation, disaster response and recovery.