U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Jim Aiken, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. Fourth Fleet commander, hosted delegates from the Peruvian Navy for the 28th annual Maritime Staff Talks (MST), at St. Francis Barracks, Florida National Guard Headquarters in St. Augustine, June 1-3, 2022.
MSTs with Peru began in the early 2000s to synchronize the numerous engagements that both the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps were conducting with their Peruvian counterparts.
Rear Adm. Aiken led the U.S. delegation and Rear Admiral Oscar Torrico, deputy chief of Naval General Staff, led the Peruvian delegation.
During his opening remarks, Rear Adm. Torrico spoke about the strong relationship between the two countries’ maritime services.
“With you, we share a vision for a strong U.S. Navy, Coast Guard, and Marine Corps with our Peruvian Navy,” said Rear Adm. Torrico. “I would like to stress that the Peruvian Navy’s commitment to maintain the security of the sea will strengthen relations between our navies, Coast Guard and Marines, and this meeting will allow us to achieve a greater level of coordination, interoperability, and friendship.”
Rear Adm. Aiken reminded the room of the century long history the United States has with Peru and stressed collaboration, working together, and building trust as key components of these talks.
“The most important thing we will do this week is build relationships,” said Rear Adm. Aiken. “To increase our collective abilities by working together to coordinate and synchronize our efforts in support of our mutual security goals. Building on decades of close cooperation, these Maritime Staff Talks remain critical to shaping the close relationships and capabilities that ensure the effective interoperability of our forces. They offer an excellent opportunity to continue to work together to develop ideas which promote our support to our mutual interests.”
Over the past year, U.S. and Peruvian engagements have included Silent Forces Exercise (SIFOREX); UNITAS LXII (62), the longest running international military training exercise in the world; and Peruvian submarine Pisagua conducting fleet exercises with the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group off the U.S. East Coast.
Delegates discussed working together in the future to conduct officer exchanges and looked at other educational opportunities between the United States and Peru to continue to demonstrate the strong partnership.
Other notable topics discussed included Woman, Peace, and Security (WPS), and the Enlisted Leader Development (ELD) program.
U.S. 4th Fleet’s Command Master Chief Robert Florentino spoke about the ELD Program, which is designed to share experiences, best practices, and lessons learned with partner nations in order to spread unity among officer and enlisted ranks. ELD aligns U.S. 4th Fleet goals to U.S. Southern Command’s Enlisted Leader Professional Development (ELPD) program, an overarching effort to professionalize enlisted leaders throughout partner nations in the area of responsibility.
“The most effective team is one of both officers and enlisted working together, building relationships at all levels of leadership,” said Command Master Chief Florentino. “Nothing is more rewarding for me than to help strengthen and build that team among our Peruvian partners.”
The MST ended with Rear Adm. Aiken and Rear Adm. Torrico signing the minutes, signifying the end of a productive week of discussions, and a mutual agreement to continue to work together and build on the special relationship the two nations share in the future.