Colombia Wins Fuerzas Comando in Guatemala
By Dialogo July 28, 2015My congratulations to the Guatemalan Army, to the first three places, and particularly to the rest of the teams that participated. It was important to compete in this event because what was shared, learned and what each country contributed to the event was very significant.
Peace be with all of you in the Latin American and United States Military Forces.
Each one of the young military members who participated has improved his/her level of military service and his/her character and convictions.
I would like this competition to be held in southern Chile, too. I assure you that the first four places would change completely.
Colombia recently earned its third straight Fuerzas Comando title, winning the annual military special operations skills competition testing endurance, ability, marksmanship, and aquatic skills held this year in Guatemala from July 15-23.
It was Colombia’s seventh victory in the event, which was sponsored by the United States Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) and executed by the U.S. Special Operations Command South (SOCSOUTH). The country's team had won four straight championships from 2005-2008. This year, it defeated 18 teams from the Americas and Europe during the competition at the headquarters for the Brigadier General Pablo Nuila Hub of the Kaibil Special Forces Brigade in the northern municipality of Poptún, which is 377 kilometers north of Guatemala City.
“The goal of this competition is for each team to demonstrate their abilities in special operations and tactical operations, as well as the techniques and procedures to be followed in the war on terror,” the Guatemalan Army reported.
The Olympic-style military competition tests the skills that the Special Forces from each competing Army practice daily in the fight against terrorist groups and transnational criminal organizations.
“They are not simply teams for a competition, but operational units that have selected the competitors for this event from amongst their personnel,” said Lieutenant Colonel Ángel Martínez, exercise and training director for SOCSOUTH.
A competitive field
The United States placed second overall, while El Salvador, Guatemala, and Chile rounded out the top five. Honduras won the Sniper Team category, with Jamaica placing first in the Assault Team event. Argentina, Belize, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Guyana, Panama, Peru, Paraguay, Uruguay, Mexico, Haiti, and Spain also competed in the searing heat that averaged 38 degrees Celsius with high humidity.
The country teams met the challenges of “the bothersome climate, the nature of the infrastructure, and the obstacle course, which is one of the most difficult ones to negotiate in a competition,” Lieutenant Colonel Martínez said.
“The winning team does not win a cash prize or anything like that. It goes beyond a purely monetary award. The trophy that the champions receive represents the efforts they made during the week in a competition that perfects their abilities to fight terrorism.”
Guatemala, which finished first in the Combined Team/Physical Fitness category, had officers from the National Army who received training used by the Kaibiles -- a special operations force that conducts counter-terrorism and intelligence gathering missions.
“We are proud to be part of this force, because discipline and honor are vital to defending this nation from any terrorist threat,” Kaibil Captain Oscar Alonzo said. “Through this activity, we have shown the other nations how experienced we are in tactics and special forces operations.”
Jacobo De León Argueta, commanding officer for the Pablo Nuila Hub of the Kaibil Special Forces Brigade, expressed his satisfaction at having organized this activity “at the home of the Kaibiles in Guatemala, one of the more important elite forces in Latin America.”
“This event has brought together teams of elite army units from the Americas. It has been physically and technically demanding.”
Since 1975, more than 1,000 service members have graduated from the eight-week Kaibil International training course. Kaibil Commandos have served in United Nations peacekeeping missions in Liberia, Congo, Haiti, Nepal and the Ivory Coast. The unit’s name comes from Kaibil Balam, a respected prince and warrior of the Guatemalan ethnic group, Mam.
Bolstering regional cooperation
The Special Forces competition, which features six service members and an alternate from each participating military in each team, is designed to increase regional and multinational cooperation, mutual trust, improved training, readiness, and interoperability among the region’s Special Forces.
The events “bring together the countries of the Americas and forges new, friendly relations,” said Haiti SWAT team leader Gordon Davis, whose team participated for the first time.
Infantry 1st Lieutenant Gener Pelicó, who led Guatemala’s team, was “impressed by the competitors’ skill levels, above all, because they tested themselves physically, technically, and mentally.”
“This experience has left a good taste in my mouth. Competing with service members from the Southern Hemisphere is very important.”
Peru is scheduled to host the event in 2016, though no date has been determined.