Colombian army delegation visits Fort Hood, studies Strykers
As part of weeklong visit hosted by U.S. Army South, a delegation from the Colombian Army traveled to the 3rd Cavalry Regiment Headquarters and 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 Colombia 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, the 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 of this year, at the request of the Colombian army, Army South sent a Transformation Planning Assistance Team to Colombia. During the ten-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. The U.S. army has given us good advice and has been very helpful during this whole process”, said Lt. Col. Norman Rey, commander, 3rd Light Armored Vehicle Battalion, Colombian Army.
“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 fifty years Colombia was burdened with significant internal security challenges, according to Burgoyne. However, over the last decade Colombia and the Colombian army have greatly reduced the threat and brought the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (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 our citizens and the region,” said Rey.
“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,” said Burgoyne. “This will undoubtedly provide soldiers from both of our armies with many new training opportunities and professional partnership exchanges.”