JINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON –
Building partner nation capacity in the Southern Hemisphere is a priority for the U.S. Army. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the U.S. Army South foreign liaison program.
The Army South staff knows well the benefits of including foreign liaison officers as part of the team.
"They are absolutely critical to our mission at Army South," said Col. James K. Rose, ARSOUTH's security cooperation division chief. "They help us increase our contact with our partners and synchronize our partner nation activities."
Three FLOs serve at the Army South headquarters.
They are Col. Javier Assadi, a Chilean armor officer who previously commanded the 5th Reinforced Regiment, "Lanceros," in Puerto Natales, Chile; Col. Jaime Henry, a Colombian infantry officer who has served as commander in tactical units, operational units and as chief of staff and second in command of Colombian army special forces units; and Maj. Marcello Yoshida, a Brazilian cavalry officer who recently graduated from the U.S. Army's Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.
The Army Foreign Liaison Officer Program was created to foster cooperation and mutual understanding between the U.S. Army and armies of partner nations, said Rose. They are an integral part of the team and they help us to better meet the needs of both Army South and our partner nations.
"We consult with them on our bilateral activities," Rose said. "They are a bridge across linguistic or cultural nuances between our armies and they help us to maintain a steady state of engagement."
According to Assadi, working as part of the Army South team helps to strengthen the bonds between partner nation armies.
"Having me here makes it easier for the U.S. and Chilean armies to work together," Assadi said. "I'm here to support the coordination for any activities that happen between our armies and it's important for me to maintain lessons learned and continue the knowledge base between our countries."
Henry said the personal relationships he builds while working side-by-side with the Army South staff are key to maintaining strong army-to-army partnerships.
"The most important thing in ensuring the successful execution of our mission is the human relationships we're building," Henry said. "Communicating face-to-face is critical to ensure steps are being conducted that can help for the successful completion of our mission."
Each FLO serves at least one year at the Army South headquarters before being replaced by another officer from his or her country.
Yoshida arrived at Army South less than a year ago and said he has already seen the positive impact of working alongside his partner army counterparts.
"I have been well received and I think this is going to be a great experience," Yoshida said. "I expect to strengthen the integration of our two armies and I will do my best to make sure all the programs and activities that are planned go smoothly."
In choosing a FLO, Rose said partner armies typically hand-pick "seasoned, professional officers who come with a wealth of tactical and operational experience."
The quality of officers assigned here as part of the Army South FLO program is key since they play an important role in the accomplishment of the overall Army South mission.
"In terms of Army South's enduring priorities, a key component is our partners within the region," Rose said. "We would not be as successful without our FLOs."