JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas (May 7, 2015) -- U.S. Army South and Colombian army senior leaders signed an engagement plan during the U.S.-Colombia Bilateral Army Staff Talks Executive Meeting at the Army South headquarters, April 28 - May 1.
Hosted by Army South, the talks serve as a forum to communicate and work closely with partner nations to improve military cooperation, strengthen professional relationships and have lasting effects on the peace and stability of the region.
"The U.S.-Colombia Bilateral Army Staff Talks Executive Meeting is where the Army South commanding general meets with senior Colombian army generals to formally sign an agreement on army-to-army activities for the next two-to-five years," said Lt. Col. Mark Verdi, U.S. Army South Andean Ridge lead.
The U.S.-Colombia Bilateral Army Staff Talks program is part of a year-long planning process between Army South and Colombian army leaders and ends with a senior leader engagement, which highlights the two armies' work together.
Throughout the planning process, both armies discussed capabilities for peace-keeping, security, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations. The intent is to allow them to determine specific military engagements, which will benefit both countries.
Strengthening our partnership will solidify our faith in the common causes that concern us in the region, said Colombian Maj. Gen. Ernesto Maldonado Guarnizo, Colombian army deputy commander.
Agreed-to engagements included expert exchanges, Colombian soldiers and leaders attending select U.S. military schools in their respective professions, and mutual participation in exercises including Beyond the Horizon, an annual exercise deploying U.S. military engineers and medical professionals to partner nation countries for training while providing humanitarian services to rural communities.
"The real benefit is to strengthen the relationship between our two armies and our two countries. We need each other to accomplish all the objectives stated in the final agreement," said Colombian Maj. Gen. Fernando Pineda Solante, chief of the Engineer Directorate for the Colombian army.
Maj. Gen. Joseph P. DiSalvo, Army South commanding general, said he valued the frank conversations throughout the staff and he affirmed Army South's commitment to continuously work together with the Colombian army to support its mission.
"I think it's safe to say there are no two armies in the whole world busier than both of our armies at this point and time. As we go through significant challenges of current operations and transformations, we can do this arm-in-arm and continue our great relationship," DiSalvo said.
At the conclusion of the week-long event, DiSalvo and Maldonado signed a bilateral engagement plan to conduct training and operations together in the upcoming years.
As the head of the Colombian delegation, Maldonado said he was happy with the outcome of the staff talks, which will increase success as both countries continue to transform and address challenges in the region.
It is very satisfying to see the positive results that have come from extensive discussions and agreements to partner together in the future, Maldonado said. Planned engagements are important to expanding doctrine, as well as streamlining the transformation process and helping each country face any post conflict challenges.