Special forces from 20 countries across Central and South America participated in Fuerzas Comando 2016 Opening Ceremony on May 2, 2016 in Ancon, Peru. Fuerzas Comando 2016 is a USSOUTHCOM-sponsored exercise hosted by the Republic of Peru from May 2-12. Fuerzas Comando 2016 allows participating countries to train through friendly competition while promoting military-to-military relationships and increasing training knowledge. (U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. Eric Roberts/Released)

Fuerzas Comando 2016 Begins

Hosted by the Peruvian military, the ceremony kicked-off an 11-day event sponsored by U.S. Southern Command. Fuerzas Comando consists of assault and sniper team competitions as well as group events such as the physical fitness test, confidence course, combined assault event, 19 kilometer rucksack march, and aquatic event. This marks the 13th year for the competition that tests the team’s fitness, agility, mental toughness and tactical abilities.

Through teamwork and collaboration, the competition promotes military-to-military relationships, increases tactical capabilities and improves regional security.

“The Fuerzas Comando [competition] represents the vigor and energy of working together no matter the challenges,” said Peruvian Gen. Moises del Castillo Medino, chief of Peru’s Joint Intelligence and Operations Command. “I encourage competitors to never give up and do their best.”

Even though competition is a big part of Fuerzas Comando, relationship building between competing countries is another major goal of the event.

“By training with our partner nations in a multinational competition like this one, we build the capacity to confront common challenges” said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Brian Pazzagli7fva, operations officer, Special Operations Command South, Mississippi National Guard. “Many of the problems we face today are transnational, such as organized crime and terrorism, narcotics trafficking, money laundering, illegal migration and human trafficking, which require regional partnerships focused on common goals and cooperation.”

Peruvian Lt. Hugo Vilca, Peru’s team captain, said the brotherhood among countries is important, as it helps promote peace, familiarity and understanding among the participating countries.

“We welcome everyone to Peru and wish every team the best,” said Vilca. “We value the brotherhood, the technical operations and the exchange of culture with each team that is participating. These are valuable to our team.”

All the teams gain valuable experiences throughout the competition.

“Fuerzas Commando is [a] great experience and exposure for Guyana,” said Guyana 1st. Lt. Lionel Medford, team captain for Guyana. “It helps us obtain better knowledge of how militaries around the world operate tactically.”

Belize Sgt. Miguel Guerra, with the Belizean team said the competition, while a challenge, is essential for a small country such as his. He expects the road march to be a challenge for his team, as the elevation and climate are different between Peru and Belize.

“It is a good experience to have interaction with other commandos here in Peru,” said Guerra. “We expect to be the best here. We expect to make our country proud. I hope the best team wins.”

The 20 countries competing this year are Argentina, Belize, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay, and the United States.

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