U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Don Gabrielson, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. Fourth Fleet, hosted delegates from the Colombian Navy for the annual Maritime Staff Talks (MST), on September 1.
MSTs support the U.S. global strategy by building and strengthening working relationships between the U.S. and partner nations and improving interoperability through face-to-face meetings. This year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic the talks occurred virtually via the All Partner Access Network (APAN).
“Staff talks are an opportunity for our navies to review progress and plan new efforts that strengthen our partnership,” said Rear Adm. Gabrielson.
Rear Adm. Gabrielson led the U.S. delegation along with Brigadier General Phillip Frietze, commander U.S. Marine Corps Forces South, and U.S. Coast Guard Rear Admiral Scott Clendenin, assistant commandant for Response Policy. Colombian Navy Vice Admiral José Joaquín Amezquita, Chief of Plans, led the Colombian delegation.
Topics of discussion included Colombia’s increased participation in exercises that focus on interdiction, coastal and riverine operations, as well as an expansion of the Acquisition and Cross Servicing Agreement (ASCA), which allows for the exchange of goods and services between the two navies.
Delegates also agreed to continue the subject matter expert exchanges, which include the exchange of military personnel — a program that has been occurring since 1985. Further, the delegates agreed to help develop an enhanced surface warfare curriculum for Colombia’s war college.
“The most important topic was understanding what we need to do for each other in the future. What kind of missions, tasks, and duties we have to help one another complete,” said Vice Adm. Amezquita. “We want to continue working with you to pursue common interest and goals. Working together is the purpose of this navy.”
“Whether we are in person or virtual, we can learn from each other,” said Rear Adm. Gabrielson. “We have developed some great opportunities and I look forward to continuing our work with our very capable and committed partners in Colombia.”
U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. Fourth Fleet supports U.S. Southern Command’s joint and combined military operations by employing maritime forces in cooperative maritime security operations to maintain access, enhance interoperability, and build enduring partnerships in order to enhance regional security and promote peace, stability, and prosperity in the Caribbean, Central and South American region.