Colombian National Army Commander Gen. Alberto Jose Mejia transferred authority of the Conference of the American Armies (CAA) to U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley during an Army Full Honor Arrival Ceremony at Conmy Hall on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Va., Feb. 2, 2016.

"It is an honor to be here," said Mejia. "It is one of my greatest privileges in my military career."

"I want to tell you that over all these years as a Special Forces officer I've had the great opportunity to work with great American Soldiers, men and women. We share the same values and principles of democracy. They have helped us to get to where we are today."

During the transfer ceremony, Milley presented Mejia the Legion of Merit Award for exceptionally meritorious service as commander, Colombian National Army, which was an extra special honor for Mejia.

"I'm very proud to receive this very special medal. I have the same picture of Gen. John Galvin, commander, Southern Command, presenting to my father as Commander of the Army the same medal 30 years ago," said the Colombian general. "Today when I was receiving this medal, it is so important, I was thinking of them. They started their military careers in Colombia together creating their own schools, training the commanders of this fight."

The Colombian Army Chief of Staff inspected the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) troops and Soldier-musicians of The U.S. Army Band, "Pershing's Own," during the 15-minute ceremony and witnessed a pass in review of The Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps.

"It has been an honor to welcome Gen. Mejia and his team to Washington, D.C., this week and to have the opportunity to accept the privilege of hosting the Permanent Executive Secretariat of the Conference of the American Armies," said Milley.

"By assuming the responsibility for leadership of the Conference of American Armies over the next two years, I look forward to partnering with leaders to strengthen our relationships and improve security in the hemisphere and across the world," he continued. "As we move forward, this conference will continue to provide our armies the opportunity to increase cooperation, interoperability, and most importantly, develop mutually beneficial solutions to the complex issues that we face."

The CAA is currently comprised of 20 member armies from the Caribbean, Central, North, and South American countries, five observer armies, and two international military organizations.

It is a forum for chiefs of armies to discuss issues of mutual interest to contribute to hemispheric security, protection against threats to peace, democracy and freedom, and to enhance interpersonal relationships. It has provided the Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army a platform to engage in multilateral and bilateral dialogue with counterparts in the region.

Earlier in the day, Mejia laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers in honor of the unknown Soldiers and American service members buried at Arlington National Cemetery. U.S. Army Vice Chief of Staff Daniel B. Allyn and U.S. Army Military District of Washington Commanding General Bradley A. Becker escorted Mejia for an Army Full Honor Wreath-Laying Ceremony.