A delegation from the Colombian Army met with a representative from the U.S. Army Security Assistance Command and Textron Marine & Land Systems Nov.4 to review the status of equipment purchased through the Army's Foreign Military Sales program.

The daylong meeting, which took place at Textron's Slidell, La. headquarters, provided the Colombian delegation an opportunity to meet face-to-face with the vendor and representatives of the various organizations involved in supporting their $37.7 million FMS case for the acquisition of 28 COMMANDO Advanced Armored Personnel Carriers. During the session, they were able to ask questions and express concerns regarding their purchase directly to the manufacturer and representatives from other organizations involved in the case.

"The in progress review provided the customer an in-depth overview of the case and provided an opportunity for the customer and vendor to better define the requirements," said Peter Dunklin, country program manager for USASAC's SOUTHCOM operations directorate. "USASAC, along with the Security Assistance Enterprise, also addresses any questions or concerns the customer may have and provide suggestions on the way ahead for the program."

The average lifecycle of an FMS case spans several years. And often times during that span any number of issues may result in having to make adjustments to original provisions contained in the contract. Frequent and consistent communication between the customer and the various organizations involved in supporting the FMS sales is critical to satisfying the customer's requirements.

One of the benefits of periodically getting all the parties together in one location to go over the case is the development of strong working relationships among the different entities. So whenever an issue arises as the case is implemented, the customer personally knows who to look to for help in resolving it.

During the process of reviewing the case, the group addressed and resolved several issues on-the-spot. According to Dunklin, the main reason that was able to happen is the built in familiarity and trust the customer has with the people supporting their case.

"One of the most important aspects of a face-to-face meeting is building relationships with the partner nation," said Dunklin. "This allows the customer to interact with the personnel who are developing their case and also helps to provide assurance that if they have any questions or concerns, they have a team of subject matter experts standing by to assist in meeting their mission requirements."

"Sure it is easy to send emails or have a teleconference," Dunklin added. "But when everyone is sitting around the table the customer can express what their expectations and desires truly are and everyone is on the same page."

Besides getting a line-by-line status update on every aspect of the case, which includes not only the 28 vehicles, but also turret weapons systems, spare parts, operator and maintenance training and repair services, the Colombian delegation was also provided a walking tour of the Textron facility where several vehicles purchased as part of the case were in various stages of production. The facility tour concluded with the Colombian delegation receiving a test ride in the first operational vehicle of the 28 scheduled to be delivered to the Colombian Army by March 2014.

At the conclusion of the meeting the head of the Colombian delegation expressed appreciation for the collective work done on the case, thus far.

"Everyone has worked extremely hard to get these vehicles and spare parts ready to deliver to Colombia, and we are looking forward to receiving this equipment" said Brig. Gen. Ruben Alzate, Extraordinary Resources Director, Head of Land & Material, Colombian Army. "I can't tell you how much I appreciate each of your efforts."