South Carolina Guard Leaders Visit Colombian Partners
By Air Force Staff Sgt. Jorge Intriago and Air Force Lt. Col. Jim St. Clair
South Carolina Air National Guard Joint Force Headquarters
COLUMBIA, S.C., Mar. 6, 2013 South Carolina Adjutant General Army Maj. Gen. Robert E. Livingston Jr. led a team of 10 soldiers and airmen to Bogotá, Colombia, Feb. 19-22 for the latest engagement of the newly formed State Partnership Program between South Carolina and the Republic of Colombia.
Army Maj. Gen. Robert E. Livingston, Jr., left, the adjutant general of South Carolina, speaks with Colombian Army Maj. Gen. Jorge Salgado, army planning and transformation, in front of a Colombian army Mi-17 search and rescue helicopter in Tolemaida, Colombia, Feb. 21, 2013. National Guard photo by Air Force Staff Sgt. Jorge Intriago
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
The South Carolina National Guardsmen, who train for and support humanitarian assistance and relief operations, met with their military counterparts and with the Colombian national police.
Together they conducted a subject-matter expert exchange of shared capabilities, experiences and lessons learned, with the goal of improved humanitarian assistance and disaster relief response in both countries.
South Carolina and Colombia formally established their bilateral relationship during a ceremony held in Columbia, S.C., last July. The State Partnership Program is a joint venture of equal partners and 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 wartime to a peacetime military," Livingston said.
This visit was the third of five engagements between the two partners planned for fiscal year 2013. Colombia is interested in improving its humanitarian assistance and disaster relief capabilities with the support of the South Carolina National Guard. With Colombian forces getting closer to achieving long-term security goals in their country, their focus is shifting to humanitarian assistance missions 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 Army Col. Ken Rosado, joint operations officer for the South Carolina 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, Air Force Lt. Col. Butch Bowers, an Air Guard judge advocate general 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 State Partnership Program coordinator, Maj. David King said the 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."