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NEWS | March 27, 2014

Georgia Guard members 'won't forget' exchange in Guatemala

By Maj. Will Cox Georgia National Guard

POLYTECNICA, Guatemala - Nearly 25 Georgia Guard members are in Guatemala through April as part of Task Force Warrior which is partnered with the Guatemalan Interagency Task Force in order to build capacity and to enhance their capability in combating transnational criminal organizations and drug trafficking organizations.

"The Guatemalan Interagency Task Force is an elite organization made up of both Army and Police service members," said Lt. Col. Anthony Fournier, 2-121 Infantry Regiment's battalion commander and TF Warrior commander. "TF Warrior is not only training the GIATF in vehicle and personnel search techniques, but we also are training them in crime scene investigation and evidence processing procedures."

The Georgia Army National Guard was assigned to support the Department of Defense's Regionally Aligned Forces concept in Guatemala where security is achieved through strengthening alliances, building new partnerships, and forging coalitions of common interest that help resolve problems and hopefully prevent conflict.

"TF Warrior is not just composed of the National Guard, it also includes the men and women of the U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Border Patrol, and the Drug Enforcement Agency to help provide the best training possible," Fournier said. "Local agencies like the Guatemalan Ministry of Governance and other Guatemalan Military entities teach classes on human rights and Guatemalan constitutional law."

To accomplish TF Warrior's mission Fournier chose Georgia Guard members with local law enforcement experience in addition to their military training to best train a task force that is composed of both Guatemalan Military and National Police agents.

"As an employee of the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center [in Glynco, Ga.], I get to conduct advanced training for agencies such as the U.S. Marshals, Secret Service and Customs and Border Protection," said 1st Sgt. Timothy Sperry, senior enlisted advisor to Bravo Company, 2-121 Infantry Regiment and TF Warrior Sgt. Maj. "My 26 years of military experience, combined with 16 years of law enforcement experience as a police officer and defensive tactics and arrest techniques instructor, gives me a breadth of experience to pull from and relate to both the military members and police agents."

Sperry not only served as the TF Warrior sergeant major but was also the lead instructor for defensive tactics and arrest techniques training where every combatives exercise ended in handcuffing your opponent.

"I think the most interesting thing our team did was the actual hands-on training with the Guatemalan Interagency Task Force," said Sperry. "I've conducted training and joint operations with multiple countries and agencies all over the world, and I've never had a group of host nation military or police act with such a high standard of professionalism or show such enthusiasm for executing the training."

"I think a lot of people join the National Guard to do something adventurous," said Fournier. "Participating in the Regionally Aligned Forces mission in Guatemala is an experience they will not forget."