JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas – U.S. Army South hosted a delegation from the Chilean Army for the 17th annual staff talks at its headquarters building in Joint Base San Antonio - Fort Sam Houston, August 30-31, 2022.
The staff talks are bilateral engagements designed to develop and enhance army-to-army understanding, partner nation modernization and security cooperation within the region.
Maj. Gen. William L. Thigpen, U.S. Army South’s commanding general, opened the two-day event by welcoming the Chilean delegation and talking about the significance of the staff talks.
“Our goal is always to build on our partnership and strengthen relationships and most importantly, anytime we have an opportunity to train, whether it’s virtual or it’s live, we want to increase our interoperability,” said Thigpen.
Chilean Army Lt. Gen. Cristobal de la Cerda, Chilean Army chief of staff, followed Thigpen with opening remarks.
“It is an honor for us to be present in this bilateral staff talk which only confirms to Chile, and the Chilean Army, that Army South is our primary strategic partner,” said de la Cerda.
The annual engagement between the U.S. Army and Chilean Army marks the 17th time the nations’ armies have gathered to continue building on their partnership.
“It’s a great opportunity to share and to know each other in a better way because next year we are going to have 200 years of relationship between both armies,” said Col. Aldo Vergara, Chilean liaison officer assigned to Army South. “From that point of view, it's important that we realize that we share a lot of values, and it has been a great opportunity to (increase our shared understanding).”
The strong relationship is evident by the history the U.S. and Chile have together. It is even further expanded with the Texas National Guard state partnership and Chile. This year the two armies agreed to conduct numerous bilateral activities, one of which is a major exercise called Southern Vanguard which focuses on developing interoperability and will further enhance our relationship, explained Col. Robert C. Armstrong, Army South’s director for the Security Cooperation Division.
“The U.S. Army and Chilean Army staff talks help overall to strengthen our partnerships,” said Armstrong. “It continues to build trust between our respective armies, and it leads to integrated deterrence in the region.”
The closing ceremony saw both generals give thanks to each country for their efforts in putting together the staff talks, for the friendship throughout the years and the continued building of partnership into the future.
“I would like to thank both the Chilean and the Army staff for putting this together. Next year is 200 years of U.S. and Chilean cooperation, which shows our tremendous partnership,” said Thigpen. “We look forward to working together, training together, exercising together and building the capacity of both countries, but most importantly expanding interoperability”