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Cablegate: Colmil Reforms (1) -- Education Roadmap

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DE RUEHBO #1246/01 0531808
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 221808Z FEB 07
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2877
INFO RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 8717
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ FEB LIMA 4786
RUEHZP/AMEMBASSY PANAMA 0002
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO 5432
RUEABUC/CDRUSARSO FT BUCHANAN PR
RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC//USDP ADMIN/CHAIRS//

UNCLAS BOGOTA 001246

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PTER MARR CO
SUBJECT: COLMIL REFORMS (1) -- EDUCATION ROADMAP

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Summary
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1. Planners have drafted a "strategic roadmap" for
overhauling military and police education and doctrine, the
first of five reform areas announced last fall by the Defense
Minister to strengthen the credibility and efficiency of the
armed forces. Educational initiatives will focus on
leadership and values, cross-service jointness in doctrine
and training, academic standards and teaching tools, and on
personnel systems. Detailed planning for these comprehensive
changes will continue through 2007, with implementation in
2008 funded by the new "wealth tax." End Summary.

---------------------------------
Education - First of Five Reforms
---------------------------------

2. In October 2006, Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos and
Military Forces Commander General Freddy Padilla unveiled
five fundamental reforms to the public forces (Army, Navy,
Air Force, and Police), as part of the 'Consolidation' plan
for the next four years of President Uribe's Democratic
Security policy. The five reform areas were: education and
training, roles and missions, military penal justice,
discretional authorities, and intelligence. Beyond these
headings, little detail on the reforms has been released;
Santos has only said that they are evolving steadily. A
leader of the education team, Colonel Alberto Mejia, briefed
us on February 5 on the state of planning in that area.
Septels will outline other reforms.

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Leadership, Ethics, and Values
------------------------------

3. Ethics and human rights are at the heart of education
reform plans, which COL Mejia's team have summarized in a
roadmap of 19 strategies. The overriding goal, stresses
Mejia, is to strengthen the "legitimacy" of the military. An
ethic of excellence in service to the community, within all
branches, is paramount. So too is inculcating an
"indomitable spirit, in both public and private, every hour
of every day." To support these priorities, the Embassy is
assisting the Ministry in preparing a seminar for 200
generals on ethical processes, values, and systems. Minister
Santos has said the goal is to guide service members in
making their own rational ethical choices, rather than
relying on rigid traditional religious standards.

----------------------
Doctrine and Jointness
----------------------

4. Going to the core of armed forces operations, educational
reforms will revamp doctine with an emphasis on shared
standard operating procedures (SOPs) and joint operations.
Currently, for example, services lack common communication
protocols; when a rural police post was attacked there were
delays in conveying where to target aerial bombardment.
Planners envision the creation of a joint center for
formulation of doctrine, emulating the U.S. military's
process (e.g. with war-gaming simulation software).
Education will attempt to dissolve distrust between services,
particularly Army and Police. Mejia admits that this is a
major hurdle, culturally and operationally. One means is
shared training in overlapping skills -- e.g. a common sniper
school, and shared human rights training. Currently, an Army
officer's first substantive encounter with members of other
branches can occur as late as 17 years into a career, at the
war college; joint training earlier on could improve cohesion
simply through interaction with other services.

------------------------
Academics and Technology
------------------------

5. The Ministry of Education will help prepare new rigorous
academic programs with accreditation regimes equal to
civilian universities, particularly in areas of Colombian
military expertise such as Navy oceanography. The Bogota
chapter of the Harvard / MIT Club is helping to target
critical skill areas (e.g. health management) for educational
exchange programs. Finally, planners aim to establish a
system of science, technology, and innovation, including
simulations.

--------------------
Personnel Management
--------------------

6. The armed forces desperately need defined career tracks
and personnel databases, spanning from recruitment to
retirement. The selection process for new recruits will be
reviewed, with an eye to weeding out candidates with
backgrounds not appropriate for military service. Career
paths will be managed according to skills and competencies.
While U.S. military personnel have major and minor
specializations, in Colombia existing skills (e.g. in
intelligence) are often ignored in the face of unrelated
urgent needs (e.g. for an explosives officer), wasting
training. Moreover, additional flexibility will be
introduced to enable conversion from NCO to officer corps, to
address the acute number of unfilled officer positions.
Mejia noted that rationalizing career paths this way will
require formal legislative approval of the finalized plan.

-----------------------------
Planning Process and Timeline
-----------------------------

7. Given the wide scope of the education and doctrine reform
plan, 2007 will be dedicated to detailed planning.
Implementation is slated for 2008, supported by funding from
the new "wealth tax." The pro forma budget calls for five
million dollars, although planners are hopeful for an
increase. Thus far, assisted by external private
consultants, the Ministry has defined its "roadmap" of
priorities. The next step is to define performance measures
for every strategy. Ultimately, over the course of this
year, a work plan will be drafted for each of the 19
strategies and each of the services (Army, Navy, Air Force,
and Police). President Uribe has given full authority to
Defense Minister Santos to develop the reforms, requiring
presidential involvement only for the legislative changes
mentioned above.

DRUCKER

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