During a ceremony to honor Colombian Army Colonel José Alejandro Forero on June 29, General Douglas Fraser, Commander, U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) expressed his thanks for the colonel’s year of service as one of the Partner Nation Liaison Officers.
Col. Forero came to SOUTHCOM in the summer of 2011 with extensive experience in fighting the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), as a war college professor and with more than 27 years of service in his country’s Army.
In Gral. Fraser’s words, during his tenure in SOUTHCOM, Col. Forero was instrumental in facilitating the communication between the Armed Forces of the United States and those of Colombia, and especially in sharing the necessary information to coordinate collaborative efforts in support of the regional fight against narcotrafficking and Countering Transnational Organized Crime.
“José, Sandra, we’ve learned from you and benefitted from your knowledge of Colombia, from your willingness to learn how we work and to engage within our command,” said Gral. Fraser to the colonel and his wife. “Your dedication to our duties shed invaluable insight into the mutual understanding of our nations,” he added.
Attendees not only included members of SOUTHCOM’s Joint Staff, but Brigadier General Leonardo Barrero, Director of Operations, Colombian Military, who has known Col. Forero for the last 27 years, was also present.
“I am… we are truly saddened today to bid farewell to a family like SOUTHCOM, that has welcomed us with open hearts since our first day,” said Col. Forero for his part. He explained that as they made the trip to Miami one year ago, he and his family fretted feeling like strangers in a foreign country and far from home. “But it was not the case,” he stated. “We have made very good friends and felt like we fit right in…we have been introduced to great commanders and we depart very thankful of our time here.”
“I will take back with me valuable lessons from this experience and share them with my peers to implement in our own development of new projects. My job was to bring the Armed Forces of the United States and Colombia closer together and am thankful to all of you who have made my duty a success,” he ended, as he received a Joint Service Meritorious Award for his service.
SOUTHCOM established the Partner Nation Liaison Officer (PNLO) Program in 1998, with the focus of establishing links with U.S. partner nations in Central and South America and the Caribbean that would serve as a conduit to foster a better understanding of mission and tactics, facilitate the ability to integrate and synchronize operations, assist in the transfer of vital information, enhance mutual trust, and develop an increased level of teamwork.