SOC South sponsers Fuerzas Commandos 2018 - a multi-national special ops competition in Panama - South Dade News Leader: Community News | South Dade News Leader | Miami Dade County

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SOC South sponsers Fuerzas Commandos 2018 - a multi-national special ops competition in Panama

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Posted: Friday, August 10, 2018 1:00 am | Updated: 11:33 am, Tue Aug 14, 2018.

The best of the best soldiers from the military of 17 different countries in the American Hemisphere met again, this year in Panama.

The nine-day special operations skills event tests participants’ technical and tactical skills and includes a Distinguished Visitor Program.

The event is called “Fuerzas Comando”, observable in the internet social media platforms and closely followed by millions of people in Latin America.

However, it is little known in the USA. Nine full days of intense struggle to be number one in a multitude of physical, confidence, and combat skills including weapon marksmanship, aquatics, tactical capabilities, an extreme ruck march, and a challenging obstacle course.

At the event’s closing ceremonies, the main speaker, Brigadier General Antonio Fletcher, Socsouth Commander in Homestead, emphasized the significance of these occasions which include seventeen countries from the Caribbean, Central America, South America, and the United States participating at the

ceremony in Panama.

“The biggest winner in Fuerzas Comando is always the entire region,” said Fletcher. “The camaraderie, respect, trust and partnership strengthened during the competition means we continue expanding our level of interoperability, and cooperation.”

The contacts and teamwork generated during these exercises withstand the passage of time, facilitates future coordination and strengthens safety and security procedures, it is a unique opportunity to build relationships and share ideas across countries.

A parallel event to the physical competition, only for the military, is the Senior Leadership Conference. It takes place with a gathering of Generals, Colonels, Commanders and experts from all over the American Continent, who meet and exchange ideas and solutions to current pressing issues For the last five years I have attended as an observer representing the United States at personal expense. Usually there are only four of five invited observers in all. This is a military exercise, other than on TV and the Internet, there are no spectators on site. There is no cheering, or hooting for favorites.

The reasons to participate are many. Above all is the amazing opportunity to foster good will throughout the American Continent. North, Central and South America represent a formidable trading region, rich in natural and human resources. Economically the area could be considered more significant than Europe or the Middle East, yet it is at times taken for granted. In addition, terrorism, drugs, corruption and illegal activities impact our country on a daily basis and require building relationships and coordinated efforts. 

Second, the organization of this very important event takes place from Socsouth command post in HARB, and from Southcom in Doral. There is the homegrown pride from the soldiers representing the US. This year they were from the 7th Special Forces Group in Eglin AFB in the panhandle of Florida. The extraordinary significance of this event of intense and amiable

competition in the jungles of different countries grows on you as you experience the camarederie, the interactions, the communication and dedication that develops among those that are fighting for our safety and freedom. They are representing many countries, who now and in the future, will know the face of the person at the other end of the telephone. Cooperation enabling rapid response is essential among receptive nations.

This year the first overall place was won by Colombia, second by the USA, third by Ecuador. They were followed in order by Brazil, Honduras, El Salvador, Chile, Jamaica, Panamá, Argentina, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Haití, Paraguay, Perú, and Trinidad and Tobago. Next year this competitive event will take place in Chile.

Third, the existence of our Special Forces in South America, including Panama, is paramount for security reasons. I found that Panama suffers a large negative impact from illegal immigration, perhaps even worse than we do in the US. Actions taken across all borders needs to reflect coordinated efforts among people who understand and respect each other. Thus one of the benefits of an event such as Fuerzas Comando. My purpose is to let our

soldiers know that we treasure what they do, including outside of our own turf. In the United States we exhibit civilian support for the military seldom seen in other countries, and yet, others hunger for such results. This is a chance to explain the value of doing so.

Finally, Panama, hosting this years’ event, has grown to represent the epicenter of intense global economic interaction, a hub not only among the American continent, but from Europe, Asia, Middle East, Africa and more. While China is competing in their attempt at building another canal to also connect the Atlantic to the Pacific, and is gaining a foothold in the transportation and major economies of South America, we need to treasure and preserve our friends.

The influence of the widening of the Panama Canal not only impacts Miami in an explosion of new business ventures and expansion of commerce, but will impact us here in Homestead as well. We can help convincing the Department of Transportation that an extension of Metrorail all the way south to Homestead is imperative, for it would be a colossal mistake not to do so. The presence of Four Star General Raymond Thomas during the tour of the Canal highlights the importance that such an engineering wonder represents to our future.

The chance to “break bread” with officers and elite soldiers of our and neighboring nations is an occasion to plant seeds of good will and search for solutions to common goals . This is an excellent opportunity to extend my/our sincere thanks to amazing men and women in the military.

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