Special Operations Command South Completes Exercise Southern Star 2016
By U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Osvaldo Equite August 09, 2016Multinational Special Operations Forces from Chile and the United States completed exercise Southern Star on July 28th amid Antofagasta, Chile’s arid desert plains and mountain sights along the Pacific coastline. The Chilean led exercise, commonly known as Estrella Austral in Spanish, is a capacity-building exercise that culminates months of training between Special Operations Command South assigned forces and their Chilean counterparts to enhance interoperability and build relationships among both countries’ militaries. Training included subject matter expert exchanges and combined training exchanges in mountaineering, airborne operations, medical training, logistical and air support, weapons, and close quarters combat integration to name a few. This year, Southern Star 2016 set the stage for forces to integrate in a combined joint environment at the operational and tactical level during a 10-day simulated scenario in one of the world’s driest desserts. “Militaries need to train constantly to maintain operational capacity,” said Chilean army commander, Gen. Humberto Oviedo. That is why a fictitious scenario was developed where Special Operations Forces [SOF] forces can share their expertise, their experiences, their techniques, and most importantly, get to know each other and build rapport, he added. “Partnership is the foundation of our participation in Southern Star,” added U.S. Army Col. Reginald Bostick, SOCSOUTH deputy commander. Through partnerships like this, SOF share best practices, and communicate better with each other to develop lasting relationships that support peace, security and stability in the region. About 130 U.S. Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors and Marines assigned to SOCSOUTH integrated with their counterparts to exchange capabilities and experiences unique to SOF. One U.S. Air Force MC-130J and two U.S. Army MH-60 Blackhawk aircraft provided transportation support and additional training opportunities for exercise participants. “This exercise not only demonstrates [the relationship we have with Chile] and demonstrates the best of our capabilities, but it sets the stage for future partnerships,” said Col. Bostick. The Chilean Defense Minister, José Antonio Gómez, and the U.S. Ambassador to Chile, Michael Hammer, were among the many senior officials that visited exercise locations and met with exercise participants.