Marines and sailors from the U.S. Marine Corps Forces, South, and U.S. Marine Forces Reserve participated alongside military and interagency partners from 22 nations in Belize and Mexico during a major multinational exercise from 7 to 21 May.
Exercise TRADEWINDS is a multinational exercise sponsored by US Southern Command and hosted by various nations in and around the Caribbean. This exercise focuses on building the capacity, knowledge and expertise of participating nations in the Caribbean to better respond to security threats.
Participating for the first time in the field training portion of this exercise, Colombia supported TW22 by sending elements of the Colombian Marine Corps to participate in the riverine training events and elements of the Colombian army to participate in the events. training in the jungle. The river training took place along the Hondo River near Chetumal, Mexico and consisted of several key events to include small boat operations, marine navigation, water survival, boat maintenance, beach landing, maritime interdiction, river patrols, heliporting, last heli-borne extractions, and ship-to-shore movements.
“Exercises such as TRADEWINDS play an important role in improving maritime security throughout the region and highlight the importance of working with our partners and allies…” Colonel Brian Ecarius, MARFORSOUTH Director of Plans and Exercises
“The Colombian Marines have demonstrated a high level of rigor, professionalism, competence and motivation. It is obvious that they are extremely competent and enjoy training with American and multinational partners,” said Master Sgt. Billy Ross, the training chief of the Third Force Reconnaissance Company. “The presence of Colombians here to train and exchange knowledge has been extremely beneficial for all partners involved.”
Colombia is a regional leader in riverine operations and has much to teach military units around the world. They operate a river center of excellence at their training center in Turbo, in the Gulf of Uraba, which is designed to be the first river training center in the region to teach and exchange expertise with partners. In addition, Colombia is actively engaged in security missions in its country focused on counter-narcotics, terrorism and counter-insurgency, which contributes to its capabilities and effectiveness in riverine operations. This experience allows them to develop, refine and validate new approaches to littoral operations contributing to regional security and stability.
“Their operations in and around the coastlines provided fundamental information on the tactics, techniques and procedures associated with riverine and littoral operations,” the gunnery sergeant said. Julio Castellanos, MARFORSOUTH engagement chief who spent three years in an exchange program with the Colombian Marine Corps. “There’s so much they’ve already taught us that we can continue to learn from them to advance our own abilities and concepts.”
Photo taken by Sgt. Matthew Teutsch
The U.S. and Colombian navies have a historic relationship that is strengthened by shared challenges, shared visions, and shared values. Each year, the two forces host multiple subject matter expert exchanges that provide a venue for mutual learning on topics such as amphibious planning, expeditionary logistics, and leadership development. Littoral and expeditionary operations are central to both nations and facilitate increased interoperability and unity of effort.
TRADEWINDS is a key opportunity to develop this relationship and allow Colombia to continue its role in exporting security throughout the Western Hemisphere. Not only does it provide participating nations with the opportunity to conduct combined, joint and interagency training focused on complex multinational security operations, but it also enhances cooperation and interoperability across the region. Colombia and the United States have a lot to offer in this regard and the two nations are currently in talks to increase participation and co-run a training track during TW23, hosted by Guyana.
“Exercises such as TRADEWINDS play an important role in strengthening maritime security throughout the region and underscore the importance of working with our partners and allies to achieve common goals and regional security,” said Colonel Brian Ecarius. , MARFORSOUTH Director of Plans and Exercises. “Latin America and the Caribbean is home to significant coastal and riverine environments, making it a prime location for maritime partnerships, experimentation and the exchange of subject matter expert knowledge in littoral operations. “