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Home : News : State Partnership Program
NEWS | March 6, 2013

South Carolina National Guard leaders visit Colombian military partners

By Staff Sgt. Jorge Intriago and Lt. Col. Jim St. Clair Joint Forces Headquarters Public Affairs

COLUMBIA, S.C. - South Carolina Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Robert E. Livingston, Jr. led a team of 10 to Bogotá, Colombia, Feb. 19-22 for the latest engagement of the newly formed State Partnership Program (SPP) between South Carolina and the Republic of Colombia.

Soldiers and Airmen from the S.C. National Guard, who train for and support humanitarian assistance and relief (HADR), traveled to Colombia and met with their military counterparts and with the Colombian national police. Together they conducted a subject-matter expert exchange of shared capabilities, lessons learned, and experiences with the goal of improved HADR response in both countries.

South Carolina and Colombia formally established their bilateral relationship during a ceremony held in Columbia, S.C. last July. The SPP is a joint venture of equal partners and as well as one of shared responsibilities in addressing transnational concerns.

During the visit, Livingston met with Colombia's Minister of Defense, Juan Carlos Pinzón, to discuss the strategic direction of the partnership. "In my discussions with Pinzón, they were not only about current operations but also the strategic vision of the partnership as the Colombians transition from a war time to a peace time military," Livingston said.

This visit was the third of five engagements between the two SPP partners planned for fiscal year 2013. Colombia is interested in improving its HADR with the assistance of the S.C. National Guard. With Colombian forces getting closer to achieving long-term security goals in their country, their focus is shifting to HADR as they work to improve the lives of Colombian citizens.

"The professional dialogue on military support to civil authorities during a natural disaster was very informative and facilitated learning from all parties," said Col. Ken Rosado, joint operations officer for the S.C. National Guard. "We face many of the same types of potential natural disasters and it was very beneficial to exchange ideas and discuss common challenges."

Summing up the trip, Lt. Col. Butch Bowers, an Air Guard JAG officer said, "It was a great opportunity for our team to share our knowledge and experience with our state partners in Colombia.  On a personal level, I appreciated the opportunity to work with the leadership of the Colombian army and air force on the establishment of a legal framework in military disaster relief missions."

South Carolina's SPP coordinator, Maj. David King concluded by noting, "This engagement was a huge move forward with Colombia. It let us engage at a very high level with the Colombians and allowed us to share our vision of the partnership with the Colombian leadership."