February 10 marked the culmination to their assignments as Military Liaison Officers to the U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) for Brazilian Navy Commander Paulo Petró, Peruvian Army Colonel Juan Carlos Liendo and Chilean Navy Captain Luis Felipe Bravo.
SOUTHCOM honored the country representatives in a ceremony to thank them for their service and bid them farewell. U.S. Air Force General Douglas Fraser, USSOUTHCOM Commander also recognized their distinguished service by awarding Cmdr. Petró and Capt. Bravo with a Joint Service Commendation Medal on behalf of the Secretary of Defense.
In his opening remarks, Gen. Fraser said, “This program is very important to the United States…the benefit we gain mutually will pay us dividends in the future,” and was quick to add that the relationships established with the liaison officers and the work achieved together have already paid both sides important dividends. “We have learned a great deal from each other as we worked with the Armed Forces of their countries.”
The same medal was presented to Col. Liendo in a previous ceremony on February 3, by U.S. Air Force Brigadier General Steven Shepro, Director of SOUTHCOM’s Strategy, Policy and Plans directorate, according to a press release published by the command’s Public Affairs Office.
The Partner Nation Liaison Officer (PNLO) Program began in 1998 with a focus on fostering a better understanding among partner nations and facilitating the ability to integrate and synchronize operations among them by assisting in the transfer of vital information, enhancing mutual trust and developing an increased level of teamwork among the countries. Since then, according to the press release, seven South American countries, in addition to Canada have assigned military liaison officers to the command.
Cmdr. Petró, a Marine officer and naval aviator (helicopter) who celebrated 28 years in the Brazilian Military on the same day, was assigned to SOUTHCOM on February 7, 2011, and will head back to his home country as Commander of the Amphibious Assault Vehicular Battalion in Rio de Janeiro.
“As an aviator I have flown across open seas, over the Amazon jungle and over the snowy southern Andes, but if I have to mention one highlight in my career, it would have to be my time in Miami as part of the SOUTHCOM family,” said the Brazilian helicopter pilot, while stressing his admiration for “the U.S. for the bravery of the American people.”
Chilean Submariner, Capt. Bravo, served as PNLO to SOUTHCOM since February 13, 2010, providing invaluable service as the primary link to the Chilean Command Authorities during the 8.8-magnitude earthquake that struck his country only 10 days after his arrival to Miami.
Capt. Bravo thanked his family and the command staff, expressing, “All of you [the U.S.] bring hope to many nations; you really, truly foster regional stability with your efforts in the region.”
“You make this world a better place in which to live and I feel honored to walk alongside you,” he concluded.
Capt. Bravo’s next assignment will be as member of the Staff to the Chilean Commander of Naval Operations in Valparaiso, Chile.
Col. Liendo, a fully qualified Military Intelligence Officer and Professor at the Peruvian Army’s Command and General Staff College, Military Academy and Intelligence and Analysis School in Military Intelligence, History and Strategy, served SOUTHCOM since February 8, 2010 and retired from his military career on December 31, 2011.
In addition to serving as advisor to various directorates within the command, Col. Liendo also contributed greatly to a CHDS Seminar on Security and Defense during his assignment to SOUTHCOM.