(Photo Credit: US Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. — The diplomatic relationship between the U.S. and Colombia marks its 200th anniversary this year, and the military partnership between the two countries has strengthened that bond. In April 2021, the U.S. provided Colombia with five UH-1 Bell Huey helicopters in an effort increase military capabilities.

In its latest transfer of equipment, the U.S. is helping Colombia strengthen their national security in an effort to help counter narcotics.

On December 2, U.S. Southern Command donated 20 M1117 armored security vehicles in a handover ceremony at the Buenavista Military Fort. U.S. Ambassador to Colombia Phillip Goldberg conducted the handover during the formal ceremony. Following his comments, Ambassador Goldberg signed the donation certificate with Col. Michael Rayburn of the U.S. Delegation and Colombian Minister of Defense Diego Molano and Gen. Eduardo Zapateiro of the Colombian participants.

Molano said the vehicles, which will join the Colombian fleet on the northeastern part of the country, will contribute to strengthening national security and defense.

“This cooperation guarantees mobility to face the threats of narcotrafficking and explosives, arms, and ammunition trafficking,” said Molano.

The 20 M1117 ASVs showcased during the ceremony are part of the first of 86 vehicles scheduled to be delivered to Colombia in phase one of a unique foreign military sales case, said Colombia Country Program Manager Stephanie Yawn.

“The ASVs were given to Colombia under an Excess Defense Articles grant which approves 200 vehicles,” said Yawn. “The EDA mission transfers equipment declared excess by the Army to our foreign partners at low or no cost. Refurbishment and transportation were covered under foreign military sales funds.”

The refurbishment also supports Army readiness by keeping U.S. organic industrial base production lines hot.

Phase one is expected to complete production at Red River Army Depot in March with an estimated April delivery date. Forty additional vehicles are completed at RRAD and are awaiting a vessel to ship. Yawn said for phase two, Colombia is currently working on a letter of request for 59 additional ASVs.

“The Colombian military has asked for input from Tank-automotive and Armaments Command and the EDA group that is managing the sale, so they are knowledgeable from a budget standpoint when they speak to their Ministry of Defense,” said Yawn. According to the Colombian Army, noteworthy characteristics of the ASVs are their technology, firepower, and ability to withstand impacts from explosive devices.

“This new fleet of vehicles will improve the protection of our soldiers while working in critical areas of the country,” said Ambassador Goldberg. “These vehicles can be used for humanitarian or military operations.”

The Army Materiel Command Security Assistance Enterprise includes USASAC, TACOM and many other organizations that provide capabilities through security assistance and foreign military sales that support regional and global operations, enable national territorial defense, and enhance interoperability and readiness — all of which allows the Army to compete and deter effectively.