Nine months ago Maj. Gen. Daniel R. Walrath, U.S. Army South commanding general, was in Colombia standing shoulder-to-shoulder next to Gen. Eduardo E. Zapateiro, Colombian National Army commanding general, at the conclusion of a foreign airborne jump wing exchange between paratroopers of both nations.
On Sept. 18, the two generals were only able to greet each other virtually at the conclusion of the 11th U.S. – Colombia Bilateral Army Staff Talks. The goal during the staff talks was to develop a bilateral engagement plan with the Colombian Army, which continues to strengthen their relationship with the U.S. Army.
Despite the event being held virtually, Walrath expressed it was a success for both armies.
“It has been a historic event despite the difficulty of having to plan in a virtual setting due to COVID, but I’m still extremely pleased with the results obtained and being able to map out a five-year plan for our army-to-army partnership,” Walrath said.
Since 2009, the staff talks have been instrumental in enhancing the interoperability and cooperation between the two armies, which have contributed to increased stability in the region.
“Thank you for the U.S. Army’s sincere friendship and dedication,” Zapateiro said praising the significance of the event. “I am sure that we will accomplish everything that we’ve shared through these bilateral talks.”
Zapateiro highlighted the capabilities of the Colombian Army’s soldiers would be greatly enhanced as they would be able to conduct training, synergy and interoperability with their American counterparts, which will allow his army to better face transnational threats.
The week-long engagement enhanced U.S. Army staff elements to provide the Colombian Army with insights concerning specific U.S. Army programs, areas of mutual interest and areas of modernization or reform.
Walrath mentioned both armies made good progress towards interoperability to operate together against mutual threats.
“I thank you (General Zapateiro) and your staff for the hard work and making these results possible,” Walrath said. “Our armies have achieved many significant milestones in the past six months that were the result of previous staff talks. So I’m confident that the result of these staff talks will produce additional milestones and successful results in the future.”