Marines and sailors who are part of U.S. Marine Corps Forces, South and U.S. Marine Forces Reserve took part along with Interagency and military partners of 22 countries throughout Belize and Mexico during a large multinational exercise from 7 to 21 May.

Exercise TRADEWINDS is an international exercise facilitated by U.S. Southern Command and hosted by a variety of nations in and across the Caribbean. The exercise focuses on enhancing the capabilities, knowledge, and skills of participating nations across the Caribbean to better deal with security threats.

First time participating in the field training component of the exercise Colombia helped to support TW22 with the sending of elements from the Colombian Marine Corps to participate in the riverine events and also elements from the Colombian Army to participate in the training in the jungle. The riverine exercises took place on the Hondo River in Chetumal, Mexico and consisted of various key events to include small boats maritime navigation and water survival maintenance for boats beaches landings, interdiction of maritime traffic riverine patrolling, helocasting helicopter-borne extractions of the latter, and shipping to shore operations.

“Exercises like TRADEWINDS have a major role to play in improving maritime security across the region. They also highlight that it’s important to collaborate alongside our allies and partners …”

Col. Brian Ecarius, MARFORSOUTH Director of Exercises and Plans

“The Colombian Marines displayed a excellent pedigree of rigor and professionalism, skill and enthusiasm. They are highly skilled and satisfied with their working with American and international colleagues,” said Master Sgt. Billy Ross, the Training Chief of Third Force Reconnaissance Company. “Having the Colombians present to learn and share their knowledge was tremendously advantageous to all of the participants.”

Colombia is a leader in the region in riverine operations , and can offer a wealth of knowledge to militaries from all over the world. They run an Riverine Center of Excellence at their training center located in Turbo, Gulf of Uraba that is designed to become the top riverine training facility in the region. They teach and transfer their expertise to other partners. In addition, Colombia is actively engaged in security operations within their own country that focus on counter-terrorism, counter-narcotics and counter-insurgency. This contributes to their effectiveness and capabilities for riverine-related operations. The knowledge gained from this experience helps them create, refine, and test new strategies for riverine operations, thereby ensuring peace and security in the region.

“Their operations within as well as around the Littorals have given an understanding of the fundamental strategies, tactics and processes that are associated with the littoral and riverine operations,” said Gunnery Sgt. Julio Castellanos, MARFORSOUTH engagement chief, who served for three years on an exchange with the Colombian Marine Corps. “There is a lot they have already taught us and we will keep learning from them in order to improve our capabilities and ideas.”

Working Together Photo by Sgt. Matthew Teutsch

The U.S. and Colombian Marine Corps have a longstanding partnership that has been strengthened by common challenges, shared visions and shared values. Each year , the two forces hold numerous expert exchanges, which offer the opportunity to learn from each other about topics like amphibious planning and logistics for expeditions, as well as training for leaders. Expeditionary and littoral operations are the main focus of both nations as they facilitate greater coordination and cooperation.

TRADEWINDS is a significant opportunity to further develop this partnership and allow Colombia to keep its place in exporting security to in the Western Hemisphere. It not only gives participants with the chance to carry out joint and interagency-based training focused on the complex security operations of multinationals It also improves collaboration and interoperability across the region too. Colombia as well as America U.S. have a lot to offer in this respect and both countries are currently discussing ways to boost participation and lead the training lane for TW23 which is which is hosted by Guyana.

“Exercises like TRADEWINDS have a major role to play in strengthening maritime security throughout the region, and highlight how important it is to work alongside our allies and partners in achieving common goals and ensure security across the region,” said Col. Brian Ecarius, MARFORSOUTH Director of Exercises and Plans. “Latin America, as well as Caribbean are the home of important riverine and coastal environments, making it an ideal area where maritime alliances can be formed, research and exchange of information between specialists in the field of coastal operations.”