A Peruvian officer competed alongside Soldiers and Airmen from Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston and JBSA-Lackland, as U.S. Army South hosted the first Joint Armies Military Proficiency Competition Feb. 7-8.
U.S. Army South, as the joint forces land component to U.S. Southern Command, works with partner nations in Latin America to strengthen regional security and counter transnational threats.
"One of the main lines of effort for the command is to build partnerships and to build interoperability with our partner nations," said Maj. Rene Diaz, Headquarters Battalion, U.S. Army South Operations Officer. "With those two ideas we decided to combine them and develop the competition."
During the planning, Diaz said they also decided to also include the Air Force.
"This was the first competition so we started small due to a limited number of competitors," Diaz said. "We would like to build up to a Joint Base San Antonio-wide event."
The competition was broken into five events representing individual countries that partner with U.S. Army South. The first event was the Colombian army fitness test which essentially mirrors the U.S. Army fitness test.
During the brisk February morning, competitors cooled off quickly as they jumped into the pool for the second event of the first day, the Chilean army 300-meter swim.
The first day ended at the range with the Argentina pistol qualification and the Peru rifle qualification.
Competitors tightened their equipment and weighed their rucks before sunrise Saturday morning. Everyone appeared eager to compete in the final event of the competition, the 15-mile Brazilian ruck march.
The U.S. Army's saying, "NCOs lead the way" proved true as U.S. Army South G6 Sgt. Maj. Ulysses Otero was announced as the winner of the competition in a ceremony Feb. 13 and he completed every event of the competition with a near perfect score.
Otero said the ruck march was by far the most difficult event of the competition. Although it was challenging he said he had a lot of fun.
"You never know what you are capable of unless you get out there and give yourself a chance," Otero said. "Get out there and do it."
Diaz described his plans for more robust competitions in the future. He said he would like to involve U.S. Army North, who has a partnership with Canada and Mexico, and also invite the foreign students from the Defense Language School at JBSA-Lackland, not only create a larger competition, but to also have a more diverse representation of U.S. Army partner nations.