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Colombian Army trains in Louisiana, talks five-year collaborative plan in Texas

By
Zarrin Ahmed
Maj. Gen. Daniel R. Walrath, right, U.S. Army South commanding general, greets Colombian soldiers during a visit to the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, La., June 9. Photo by Donald Spark/U.S. Army South
Maj. Gen. Daniel R. Walrath, right, U.S. Army South commanding general, greets Colombian soldiers during a visit to the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, La., June 9. Photo by Donald Spark/U.S. Army South

June 17 (UPI) -- The Colombian Army trained at the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, La., and held staff talks with the U.S. Army at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston in Texas.

The platoon arrived in Louisiana in early May, conducting tactical infantry operations with the 1-118th Infantry Regiment of the South Carolina Army National Guard, U.S. Army South said in a press release on Thursday.

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They also trained in planning and executing complex operations, officials said.

Sargent Edwin Perez, JRTC observer-controller-trainer, praised the soldiers for their discipline and initiative.

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"They start moving, get in position, and are engaged and attuned to what they have to do -- when it's go time, it's go time for them," Perez said.

"This platoon is very aggressive and gets after the enemy in the attack. Our soldiers are observing how disciplined they are and tapping into their tactical knowledge," he said.

The two teams trained together in Colombia in 2019 as part of Exercise Together Forward and have participated in the State Partnership Program since 2012 -- supporting U.S. military security cooperation activities with Colombia.

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"My guys have looked forward to training with the Colombians again. It's been an enjoyable experience for both of us," said Command Sgt. Maj. Greg Billings. "We paired them with our Alpha Company, and they loved working together. They have performed exceptionally well, and we're glad to have them in our formations."

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Billings said the Colombian soldiers brought different perspectives since they've spent "more time in the jungle than we have."

The training was the first of its kind for Major General German Lopez, Colombian Army chief of staff for Force Generation.

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"With us being here, we want to show the world whose side we're on. This is the path we want to be on globally and put our army on another level with other armies around the world as one of the best," Lopez said.

A five-year plan between Army South and the Colombian Army was developed before the trainings. It highlights objectives like hosting future trainings throughout the region between 2021 and 2025.

In the mid-1950s, the US Army Rangers developed the Lancero training program for the Colombian Army, resulting in "one of the longest one-on-one professional military relationships with the U.S. Army South" leading the partnership.

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