FORT TOLEMAIDA, Colombia, August 2, 2014 —
After a week of intense heat and extreme competition, Fuerzas Comando, the annual U.S. Southern Command-sponsored special operations skills competition, came to an end July 31 with a closing ceremony at Fort Tolemaida, Colombia.
Seventeen nations competed to earn the title of best special operations forces team in the Western Hemisphere.
For the sixth time in 10 years, the team from the Republic of Colombia hoisted the coveted Fuerzas Comando cup. The U.S. team, comprised of members assigned to the 7th Special Forces Group, placed second and El Salvador was third.
“We are very proud of what we accomplished during the competition and it gives us pride to know how well we completed against elite men from nations like Colombia and the U.S.,” said a member of the El Salvador team. “We look forward to competing again next year and trying to win the cup back for El Salvador.”
El Salvador is a two-time Fuerzas Comando champion.
Even though Colombia came out on top, a much more important reward was bestowed upon the international competitors. The experiences shared and the friends gained throughout the eight-day competition overshadowed medals and trophies.
“You are all winners,” Army Brig. Gen. Sean P. Mulholland, the commander for Special Operations Command South, said during the ceremony. “The relationships fostered amongst all of you throughout the competition will last a lifetime. You must build upon these friendships and work together to fight against the common threats we face throughout our hemisphere.”
Honduras, Panama, Jamaica, Peru, Uruguay, Canada and Costa Rica filled out the remaining top 10. Other countries that participated were Paraguay, Chile, Belize, Trinidad and Tobago, Guatemala, Dominican Republic and Suriname.
During the closing ceremony, all 17 teams were standing across the field as they did in the opening ceremony, but this time the feeling of accomplishment and pride were visible after eight days of grueling challenges that took each team to their physical and mental limits.
“The 12-mile road march was one of the toughest events in Fuerzas Comando because we had to dig deep for that one. We knew we had to beat Colombia in order to stay on pace with them,” said a U.S. Special Forces soldier assigned to 7th Special Forces Group.
He added that the team put a lot of emphasis on doing well in the road march event.
“It was one of those events we are always counted out of because of poor performances in the past,” the soldier said. “After we won that event, we gained a lot of respect from all of the other countries and became real contenders for the cup.”
The second place finish is the best performance by the U.S team since the competition was established in 2004.
As in the opening ceremony, the Colombian Minister of Defense, Juan Carlos Pinzón Bueno, congratulated each nation competing in Fuerzas Comando.
“You are the elite of the elite of your nation,” he said. “As a Colombian, I have a sense of pride with the victory of the Colombian team but you should all be proud of what you have accomplished.”
Following the ceremony, Bueno personally congratulated each of the teams.
For the Colombian team, winning back-to-back Fuerzas Comando titles is something they are not taking for granted.
“We respect each of the teams out here, and we know how hard it is to win this competition,” said a member of the Colombian team. “The great thing about Fuerzas Comando is the friendships we make with people from different countries. We are very proud of this accomplishment and look forward to defending the title next year.”
Special Operations Command South, based in Homestead, Florida, serves as the execution agent for Fuerzas Comando. The event is aimed at enhancing training and strengthening ties among Special Operations Forces in the Western Hemisphere.
Fuerzas Comando is scheduled to take place in the Central American nation of Guatemala in June 2015.