U.S. Army South hosted a delegation of Chilean army leaders to its headquarters on Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Texas, Nov. 5-6 to finalize a course of action that will see the two armies engage in more than 50 events that are scheduled to be conducted over the next two years.
Brig. Gen. Orlando Salinas, the U.S. Army South deputy commanding general, joined Chilean Brig. Gen. Guido Montini, the director of logistics for the Chilean army and head of the Chilean delegation, and Chilean Brig. Gen. Luis Chamorro, the commander of the Chilean Army Aviation Brigade, during the closing ceremony of the army-to-army staff talks here Nov. 6.
"The Chilean army is one of the U.S. Army's most important and valued partners in the hemisphere. We share common core values and vital interests, which makes our cooperative efforts important and our relationship more meaningful," said Salinas.
The staff talks were held Nov. 5-6 and served as a forum for strategic-level discussion between the two armies. The engagements enhance army-to-army contacts and mutual understanding, provide insights concerning specific U.S. Army programs and areas of mutual interest and assist partner nation armies in areas of modernization and reform.
The U.S. Army has engaged in annual bilateral staff talks with the Chilean army for the past eight years. Army South, on behalf of the U.S. Army, conducts the staff talks with the Chilean army.
"We seek opportunities to work together in order to improve our interoperability and capabilities as partners to address common challenges," said Salinas. "The work we do during staff talks will serve to focus those efforts and make them much more productive."
The staff talks have been instrumental in enhancing the interoperability and cooperation between the two armies. The intent is to increase stability in the region.
As a result, U.S. forces' capabilities have also improved by gaining lessons learned from the Chilean army in peacekeeping and disaster response operations.
"Chile has quickly emerged as a true regional leader in terms of economic, social, diplomatic and military power," said Salinas. "We want to assist in strengthening Chile's position as a regional leader and we will support its efforts to help the other nations of Latin America as they deal with these challenges as well."
In addition to the staff talks working sessions, Montini and Chamorro attended a luncheon in downtown San Antonio hosted by the Rotary Club Nov. 6. The luncheon was part of San Antonio's 43rd Annual Celebrate America's Military celebrations.
The luncheon marked the first time Chilean army leaders attended an official San Antonio Chamber of Commerce event.
This year's staff talks were centered on two themes: Promoting Regional Security and Stability and Strengthening Doctrine and Operational Capacity to Improve Interoperability.
"Chile is a vital partner for our relationship in the hemisphere," said Col. Tim Hodge, the Army South chief of international military affairs. "We think these staff talks are helpful for advancing the agendas that both our nations have toward peace and prosperity throughout the region."
Specific areas of discussion included increasing the Chilean army's participation in joint regional support exercises and operations with the U.S. Army, to include engineering support of Beyond the Horizon 2014 in Guatemala and the Dominican Republic. BTH is an annual exercise deploying military engineers and medical professionals to partner nation countries for training, while providing services to rural communities. The Chilean army deployed a team of engineers to El Salvador to participate in BTH 2013.
"These staff talks ensure the relationship between our countries and the sharing of information remain strong," said Chilean Col. Humberto J. Assadi, the Chilean army's foreign liaison officer to Army South. "We have learned much from being able to participate in multinational exercises. In addition, we hope to share our experiences related to natural disasters like earthquakes and floods."
With its highly capable military and law enforcement agencies serving as models of professionalism in the region and supporting exercises, the Chilean army plays a vital role in enhancing security in the region.
"This series of annual meetings has contributed greatly to building the strong relationship between our Armies," said Salinas. "Through these talks, we have an opportunity to develop a final blueprint that General Montini and I can confidently approve to guide our cooperative security activities over the next few years, to improve our capabilities as armies, and reinforce our relationship as equal partners."