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Army South commander visits El Salvador, meets with leaders, exercises with cadets

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Maj. Gen. Frederick S. Rudesheim (right), U.S. Army South commanding general, is greeted by Brig. Gen. Francisco Eugenio Del Cid Diaz, the Salvadoran army chief of staff, upon his arrival here Dec. 4, 2012. Maj. Gen. Frederick S. Rudesheim (right), U.S. Army South commanding general, is greeted by Brig. Gen. Francisco Eugenio Del Cid Diaz, the Salvadoran army chief of staff, upon his arrival here Dec. 4, 2012.

San Salvador, EL SALVADOR – (December 12, 2012) U.S. Army South’s commanding general traveled to San Salvador, El Salvador, Dec. 4-6 to meet with the U.S. ambassador and to have discussions with key leaders in the Salvadoran army.

During his first official visit in El Salvador as the Army South commander, Maj. Gen. Frederick S. Rudesheim met with U.S. Ambassador to El Salvador Mari Carmen Aponte.

“Meeting with the ambassador is vital to a better understanding of the support we provide to her country team and to our partners in El Salvador,” said Rudesheim.

Rudesheim spent the remainder of his trip building relationships with key Salvadoran army leaders including Maj. Gen. Jose Atilio Benitez, minister of defense, Maj. Gen. Jaime Leonardo Parada, vice minister of defense, and Brig. Gen. Francisco Eugenio Del Cid, army chief of staff.

“We are really fortunate to have Major General Rudesheim visiting with us,” said Col. Carlos Figueroa, the U.S. defense attache to El Salvador. “It’s a testament to the fact that we consider the Salvadorans as true allies; not just our governments, but army to army.”

A unique link exists between Rudesheim and the Salvadoran army chief of staff. Del Cid attended the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, Fort Benning, Ga., when he was a first lieutenant and Rudesheim, then a captain, was his instructor. Their special bond was evident as Del Cid accompanied Rudesheim throughout most of his trip here and the two shared stories of their days at Fort Benning.

“The work between our armies will be much easier due to my long history with Major General Rudesheim,” said Del Cid. “He was part of my development as a young officer and he taught me many skills that I still use today.”

During the visit, Rudesheim traveled to remote areas in El Salvador where Beyond the Horizon 2013 will take place to tour the facilities and ensure all planning objectives are on track.

Beyond the Horizon 2013 is a U.S. Army South exercise deploying military engineers and medical professionals to El Salvador and Panama for training, while providing services to rural communities. Conducted annually, BTH is part of U.S. Southern Command's (SOUTHCOM) humanitarian and civic assistance program. Working closely with host nation forces and civilian organizations, BTH teams provide medical, dental and engineering support while gaining valuable training skills.

Currently, three medical readiness exercises and four engineer projects are planned to take place in El Salvador during BTH 2013.

Del Cid and Rudesheim also spent a day at the El Salvador Military Academy. The visit began with the two generals leading a unit formation run consisting of more than 100 cadets and concluded with  the cadets receiving their commissions as second lieutenants during a graduation ceremony.

“Spending the morning here with the cadets on the day of their graduation was an honor,” said Rudesheim after completing the approximately one-hour run.

One of the highlights during the trip was when Rudesheim met personally with 14 Salvadoran soldiers as they prepared to deploy to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. This was yet another example of the strong partnership between the two armies.

The Salvadoran army deployed more than 3,400 soldiers during 11 rotations to assist in Operation Iraqi Freedom. In addition to sending soldiers in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, the Salvadoran army participates annually in humanitarian, natural disaster preparation and security exercises with Army South and other partner nation armies and security forces.

Army South gains strength through partnerships with armies of the region and visits such as this one ultimately will enhance regional security and stability, according to Rudesheim.

“Working with our partner nations has proven invaluable to us throughout the years and will certainly continue to make our relationship stronger,” said Rudesheim. “I had very productive conversations with senior leaders of the Salvadoran army and gained a better understanding of the assistance we provide and our partnership with them.”