NEWS | June 21, 2011

Puerto Rico National Guard brings special skills to Fuerzas Comando 2011

By Sgt. Monique Tindal Puerto Rico National Guard

ILOPANGO, El Salvador - Puerto Rico National Guard Soldiers are bringing bilingual and bicultural capabilities to the table in support of Fuerzas Comando 2011, June 15 to 23.

Fuerzas Comando is a U.S. Southern Command-sponsored special operations skills competition and senior-leader seminar. The exercise, established in 2004, is conducted annually in Central and South America and the Caribbean.

From the coordination of lodging, transportation, dining facility details, fuel point operations, and assistance with the Tactical Operations Center, the Puerto Rico National Guard is performing a crucial role in support of the exercise.

The competition, hosted this year by El Salvador, includes eight-man teams from 19 nations competing in a series of tests and evaluations of their skills in special operations tactics, techniques and procedures used in counter-terrorist operations.

“This support exercise enhances the cooperation and security of partnership that we have throughout the Americas,” said Army Col. William Griffin, the officer in charge of the Distinguished Visitor Program with the Puerto Rico National Guard Joint Forces Headquarters.

Many Guard members believe their support of this exercise will have profound effects long after its completion.

Army Spc. Eric Sierra, an administration specialist with the 191st Readiness Support Group, said he is impressed by the teams and the people of El Salvador, and feels he is positively contributing to the overall effort.

For these Soldiers, this is not their first time working with Central and South American nations, where their bilingual skills make a singular difference in the operation.

“We have more than 20 years of working and supporting South Command with traditional command activities like this one,” said Griffin. “Being fully bilingual and bicultural makes it easy for us to integrate and help support.”

Altogether, the Guard members provide crucial and irreplaceable skills that help the competition to be successful and less confusing.

“We all enjoy being here in support of this exercise and especially helping the teams communicate with each other,” Sierra said.