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Cablegate: Milgroup Bogota (3) -- Modernizing Personnel

VZCZCXYZ0002
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBO #5424/01 2062354
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 252354Z JUL 07
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7621
INFO RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 9198
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ JUL LIMA 5273
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO 5873
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RUETIAA/CSG SOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC//USDP ADMIN/CHAIRS//

UNCLAS BOGOTA 005424

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV PTER MARR CO
SUBJECT: MILGROUP BOGOTA (3) -- MODERNIZING PERSONNEL
MANAGEMENT

REF: BOGOTA 1246

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Summary
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1. Colombian military personnel do not have military
occupational specialties (MOS) and hence cannot be
categorized according to training, experience, or expertise.
The military also does not have a computerized system to
track personnel, which causes inefficiencies and gaps in
deployments for key positions like pilots, mechanics, and
technicians. Over the next two years, the U.S. military
plans to assist in the modernization of Colombian military
personnel management -- defining operating specialties,
formulating career paths for advancement, and transferring
records to an electronic data base. Defense Minister Santos
said this "management by competencies" approach was at the
heart of his educational and doctrinal reforms (reftel). End
Summary.

2. This is the third in a series of cables profiling
activities of the U.S. Military Group (MILGP) in Bogota. Its
missions (Army, Navy, Air Force, Logistics, and Air Component
Coordination Element) provide equipment, training and advice
to the respective arms of the Colombian military.

----------------------------------------
Military Has No Occupational Specialties
----------------------------------------

3. The Colombian military does not have occupational
specializations, which means personnel are undifferentiated
by training, experience, or expertise. The Colombian Navy,
for instance, recognizes its entire Marine Corps under a
single job title (Infantry), though the Corps is double the
size of the regular Navy. Marines trained in intelligence
work can be assigned as gunners, mechanics, or
administrators. The Colombian Air Force counts each unit's
officers and NCOs by rank, not skill. Pilots are not
distinguished by whether they fly fixed-wing or rotary
aircraft, attack or transport aircraft, and mechanics are not
specified for aircraft repair or truck repair. To earn
promotion, Army Aviation officers must command ground troops,
taking away helicopter pilots who are rare and expensive to
train. Lacking a warrant officer program, the Colombian
military cannot keep experienced non-commissioned personnel
like pilots in their positions while rewarding them for their
experience with promotions and salary increases.

-----------------------------
No Career Paths; No Data Base
-----------------------------

4. Career paths are inefficient and ad hoc due to the lack
of job specialties and the absence of computerized personnel
tracking. Officers and NCOs lack clear guidance on duty and
training requirements for advancement. Army assignments
during an initial platoon command are inconsistent -- some
officers serve long periods, others move quickly. Services
have individual intranets, but only the Police system
functions well. Most data is held in paper files, and no
software exists to transfer records among military branches,
units and departments (e.g. commands, human resources,
finance, training, etc.). Screening of candidates for onward
assignment is done by sharing hardcopy documents. These
problems carry far-reaching consequences: skills not
catalogued cannot be fully utilized, training of new
personnel can be redundant, and qualified candidates are
overlooked. Levels of technical development and quality
control are uneven, and planners have no way to assess
staffing or training needs in key areas. U.S. military
observers have expressed amazement that the Colombians have
sustained the war and a massive expansion with such
antiquated personnel methods.

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Two-Year Transformation
-----------------------

5. The U.S. military has committed to assist Colombia with
reforms in education and doctrine, which rest on modernized
personnel management. Coordinated by MILGP, the U.S. plans
to provide guidance and U.S templates to assist the Colombian
military in a two-year transformation of its staffing and
training functions. The first step, a diagnostic exercise to
inventory skills and competencies across the services an
create specialty job codes (or MOSs) is underway. A four-day
seminar slated for September will introduce senior human
resources officers to U.S. personnel management and prepare
the officers for up to six weeks of workshops with U.S. teams
to refine modernization plans and timetables. Over two years
of follow-up collaboration, including visits to U.S.
personnel units and the creation of a PATT team to oversee
the process, the goal is to create career tracks and computer
systems to manage the Colombian military's human capital more
productively.

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Keystone of MoD Reforms
-----------------------

6. The military will build its educational and doctrinal
reform around the modernization effort, which Defense
Minister Juan Manuel Santos calls "management by
competencies." Santos said the new specialties and career
tracks would determine training requirements, and lead to an
overhaul of a wide range of personnel processes, including
assignments, promotions, and definitions of equivalence of
positions across branches. The transformation effort will
concentrate first on active duty members of the armed forces,
but it can be expanded to incorporate recruitment and
retirement issues.
Drucker

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