Honduras hosted U.S. Southern Command–(SOUTHCOM) sponsored Senior Leadership Seminar, Special Operations Challenges and Capabilities in the Face of Emerging Threats in Conventional Scenarios. The event, held in conjunction with exercise Fuerzas Comando 2022, was held in Tegucigalpa, June 13–24.
The seminar brought together military, Defense, and academia officials from 22 countries of the hemisphere, all strategic leaders in military decision-making, including representatives from Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Honduras, Guyana, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, St. Lucia, the United States, and Uruguay.
“Among the regional threats that most affect citizens are gangs and narcotrafficking,”Army First Lieutenant José Antonio Coello, Honduran Armed Forces spokesman, told Diálogo. “States must fight relentlessly against these scourges, since they are the main drivers of violence.”
Honduran Secretary of Defense José Manuel Zelaya Rosales said that “the manpower that came out of the LeadershipSeminar is pure gold.” He also emphasized that this is one of SOUTHCOM’s many forms of supports to Honduras.
“This is a globalized world and we can no longer think that what happens in a country thousands of kilometers away will not affect us, whether at an economic, social, political,or military level,” Zelaya said. “These types of joint strategy seminars allow us to stay one step ahead of any regional threat.”
“Each of the participating countries face similar problems and presented their experiences and capabilities on how to combat them,” 1st Lt. Coello said. “[We analyzed] how to achieve better security standards, share information on the fight against organized crime, and also strengthen ties of friendship and cooperation through country integration.”
Speakers and experts
Attendees consolidated criteria and techniques related to planning for the use of Special Forces as a military component in the security of the Western Hemisphere.
A group of speakers from the Joint Special Operations University (JSOU) of U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) lectured participants on the threats posed by criminal networks; strategic challenges to face new transnational threats, conflicts amid the population; criminal networkthreats and structures; as well as joint, coordinated, and multinational special operations.
U.S. Army Colonel (ret.) Dr. Isaiah Wilson III, JSOU president, said the conference was an excellent return to face-to-face activitiespost pandemic, which “for many of us resumed a few months ago.”
“I see you all as partners in achieving victory, in nurturing the organizational and operational network with new ways of doing our profession,” Dr. Wilson said. “The priority is to feed the networks to combat threats in the region.”
Deployment of skills
During the seminar, participants were invited to the First Special Forces Battaliongeneral headquarters to observe a demonstration of the response capabilities of Honduras’ elite commandos in special operations against organized crime and international narcotrafficking.
In the simulation, the elite commando arrived at a clandestine airstrip where a terrorist cell was holding hostages in an airplane. Service members demonstrated their close combat, sniper, andcounterterrorism training, using special equipment and state-of-the-art technology.
On the ground, an assault team initiated the attack, while from aircraft, fast-roping, another group of the elite team went into action, successfully freeing the hostages and transferring them to a safe place.
Honduran Naval Force Vice Admiral José Jorge Fortín Aguilar, chief of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, invited the participants to remain united because “only together can we confront the threats.”
“We are grateful to Southern Command for giving us the required support, and I thank the participating countries because this is what makes us stronger,” he concluded.