The 9th annual Fuerzas Comando exercise kicked off on June 6 with an opening ceremony at the Colombian National Training Center on Fort Tolemaida, Colombia.
“I am glad to welcome many countries here that are friends of Colombia,” said Colombian Minister of Defense Juan Carlos Pinzón Bueno. “Countries that have contributed not only to our training, but have also helped us counter the threats facing our nations.”
Special operations forces from 21 countries are set to begin the eight-day military skills competition, which will test the participants’ physical strength and tactical abilities. The 17 grueling events are meant to challenge even the most skilled competitors in order to select the best of the elite military forces in the Western Hemisphere.
“Here on this parade field, there are probably several of the most prepared and the most capable men and women that we have to defend our nations from different aggressions and to protect our citizens,” said Pinzón.
The exercise is meant to build camaraderie and strengthen bonds between the countries involved to promote cooperation on common issues that affect the region. By training together, the participants gain a better understanding of each others’ tactics and capabilities, ensuring a more successful response to any situation.
“What is most important is the spirit of cooperation among our countries, among our people,” said the Minister of Defense. “Because only in this matter can we face those transnational threats.”
During the ceremony, the reigning champion, El Salvador, passed the Fuerzas Comando Cup to the host country, and every team took the competitor’s oath, which is a pledge to abide by the rules set for the exercise.
Colombia has won the competition four times in the past eight years. This year, two countries are competing for the first time – Canada and Guyana. This year is also significant because it is the first time a female competitor has participated in the competition.
The Fuerzas Comando exercise will also host a senior leader seminar, which will be held in Bogotá for military leaders to exchange ideas and to improve military-to-military relations and discuss regional issues, such as countering transnational organized crime. Both events are meant to build relationships and strengthen ties between the participating nations.
“We are very proud to have these 21 countries joining us, exchanging experiences and knowledge, as well as strengthening the ties of friendship we have with the countries from throughout the Americas,” said Colombian Lt. Col. Juan Carlos Vargas Carvajal, operations officer for the Colombian Joint Special Forces Command.
“Fuerzas Comando is an important opportunity for us to demonstrate the role the U.S. plays in the region of linking the special operations forces and improving our capabilities and sharing ideas on how to face common threats like dangerous non-state actors,” said Navy Rear Adm. Thomas L. Brown II, commander of Special Operations Command South.
Fuerzas Comando is a U.S. Southern Command-sponsored event for which Special Operations Command South is the executing command.