JBSA-FORT SAM HOUSTON –
As part of a weeklong visit hosted by U.S. Army South, a delegation from the Colombian army traveled to the 3rd Cavalry Regiment headquarters and the Combined Arms Training Center at Fort Hood, Texas, to learn more about Stryker vehicles and operations.
The 3rd Cavalry Regiment's Stryker Sabre Squadron showed the Colombian delegation how a Stryker-equipped regiment and squadron operates. This was the first time the command team for the new Colombian combined arms battalion visited a U.S. Stryker regiment.
"The Colombian army is currently in a period of transformation and will be adding a combined arms brigade to their existing inventory over the coming years through 2020," said Maj. Michael Burgoyne, Colombian desk officer for U.S. Army South.
A combined arms brigade is usually made up of infantry and armored elements.
"This week's visit is the result of many months of planning and is an important initiative to build Colombian interoperability from the inception of the new unit," Burgoyne added.
In July, at the request of the Colombian army, Army South sent a transformation planning assistance team to Colombia. During the 10-day visit, both armies worked closely together to optimize Colombian army transformation planning efforts.
One of the outcomes was an analysis, which laid the framework for the development of a Colombian combined arms brigade, based on the Light Armored Vehicle III or Stryker platform.
"This trip is very important for us because the Colombian army is going through a force transformation process," said Lt. Col. Norman Rey, commander, 3rd Light Armored Vehicle Battalion, Colombian army. "The U.S. Army has given us good advice and has been very helpful during this whole process."
"We are also hoping to transfer this enormous learning process. We want the technical, tactical and doctrinal changes to our army to take place in a smooth and efficient manner," Rey said.
For the last 50 years, Colombia had significant internal security challenges, according to Burgoyne. However, over the last decade, Colombia and its army have greatly reduced the threat and brought the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known as FARC, to peace negotiations in Havana, Cuba.
With an end to narco-insurgency in its sights, the Colombian army is now looking to the future configuration of its forces.
"We are trying to help facilitate this positive transformation within our country and our army for the benefit of our citizens and the region," Rey said.
"This new equipment will give us multi-mission capability and we look forward to future joint engagements and training exercises with the U.S. and our regional partners," Rey added.
As the Army Service Component Command to U.S. Southern Command, Army South works closely with partner nation armies throughout the western hemisphere to strengthen regional security. The command recognizes Colombia as an important partner and ally in the collective effort of combating transnational organized crime.
"It's been great to be a part of this process and to see it coming to fruition," Burgoyne said. "This will undoubtedly provide soldiers from both of our armies with many new training opportunities and professional partnership exchanges."