Once the Foreign Ministry of Peru banned Venezuelan Dictator Nicolás Maduro from attending the Summit of the Americas, international intervention in Venezuela was officially declared. Will it reach a direct military intervention? What level of destruction could occur if enacted? All that depends on the non-commissioned officers of Venezuela’s armed forces.
The real military power of an army is not in its armament. One can have very powerful weapons, but without people willing to risk their lives to use them it is as if it had none at all. For this reason, non-commissioned officers bear the brunt of the responsibility for sacrifice on the battlefront. It is they who, in the midst of the adrenaline and the sinister moments of combat, set their example and training at the service of the soldiers they are entrusted.
NCOs strive to admire and respect their officers. They can give insight and encouragement to the less trained soldiers who, in the end, serve as little more than cannon fodder. They have to be cunning and courageous to minimize human pain and maximize tactical advantage.
In the Colombiam military, where there has unfortunately long been an internal conflict, some language adaptations were made, and the term “Generales Troperos” was coined. Its equivalent in English would be Troop Generals. These generals became legends within their troops precisely because of their closeness, courage, and willingness for self-sacrifice. They are an example of discipline and respect.
Non-commissioned officers ended up turning these generals into campfire legends. NCOs knew about all their exploits, having served with the Troop Generals since they were lieutenants and captains. The stories NCOs craft about them are used as scare tactics among the recruits before operations. Therefore, if a “Troop General” is in charge, the operation is well prepared, the intelligence is reliable and there will be support in case of difficulties.
The example for the troops, but faced with impossible conditions
However, in Venezuela, the military high command is a corrupt sewer.
Generals allow young Venezuelan officers to be terrorized by invading Cuban ‘advisors’, who feed off the current social and political failure. For the Venezuelan ‘generals of misery’, the collection of stories consist of crimes and ill-treatment. Their post-adolescent officers try to avoid impatience, indignation, and acts of self-sabotage as they practice self-censorship; anything to not confess to themselves the reality of their generalship.
A real sergeant owes himself to his troop. In the heat of battle, it will be one of them that will save his life or sacrifice it with honor. But the troop will not do it simply out of obedience before alleged superiors, who are only in charge but have no authority. Only the clarity of professional responsibility from the core of non-commissioned officers allows the Venezuelan military forces to reconstitute themselves.
It is not about the thirst for glory, overflowing among those who dream of reviving the true heroes of the past. For NCOs, service is about the most modest but powerful of honors; to coexist every day in preparation for difficult moments which can save the virtue of institutions that were once admirable.
Time for desperate measures has come
While the international community wavered and waited for a power transition resolved among Venezuelans, the pressure of daily urgencies has brought hopes of desperate and epic operations carried out by a few brave soldiers. But now that the will for international intervention has been declared, these isolated uprisings have become more complicated to plan for the NCOs.
That is why there is currently a need to accelerate the revolution without weapons. One that only non-commissioned officers can carry out. A revolution guided by the pursuit of justice.
The true heroism in this stage of Venezuelan history is not a sacrifice in clashes with sister forces. Even for those that want to cleanse the military forces of criminals. It is instead precisely the moment to move towards recording crimes committed.
NCOs can acquire a probatory compilation for use in future trials for drug trafficking and violations of human rights. By doing so, not only will their Generals get what they deserved for sinking Venezuela into an abyss, but NCOs will also create the precedents so that future mafias will not try to stay in power under the facade of institutions that are so important for the nation.
Importantly, it is not necessarily a long-term effort.
Their power is in the truth only they can know
One of the great capabilities of the Colombian Armed Forces is to infiltrate criminal organizations. Cartels and guerrillas have long known the powerful capacity of the covert work performed by Colombian authorities. Non-commissioned officers need to emulate this collection of specific material that they can then take with them.
NCOs should no doubt accelerate their own migratory process to seek a better life elsewhere. But all the meanwhile preparing for their return with material about the infamous situation they have had to endure, which they can then provide testimonies about.
Venezuelan non-commissioned officers, your country needs you not as martyrs who protect criminal assets that belong to cowardly generals, but as courageous witnesses. The international community, mainly Latin American, has already begun to do justice. Now the justice system needs you.
Do it if only so you can once again look your troop, the best people the nation has to offer, in the eye. History will tell the tale of the NCO revolution as a revolution of truth.
By Jorge Eduardo Castro