Special Operations Competition Kicks Off in Panama


Despite cloudy skies, spirits were high for about 100 competitors as Fuerzas Comando, a multinational special operations competition sponsored by U.S. Southern Command and executed by U.S. Special Operations Command South, kicked off its 14th iteration here yesterday.

Panamanian commandos hold the Fuerzas Comando special operations competition trophy to open the 2018 exercise.
Panamanian commandos present the Fuerzas Comando trophy during the opening ceremony for Fuerzas Comando, an annual multinational special operations forces skills competition, in Panama City, Panama, July 16, 2018. Sponsored by U.S. Southern Command and hosted this year by Panama’s Ministry of Public Security, the exercise promotes interoperability and military-to-military relationships. Army photo by Sgt. Alexis Velez
Panamanian commandos hold the Fuerzas Comando special operations competition trophy to open the 2018 exercise.
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Panamanian commandos present the Fuerzas Comando trophy during the opening ceremony for Fuerzas Comando, an annual multinational special operations forces skills competition, in Panama City, Panama, July 16, 2018. Sponsored by U.S. Southern Command and hosted this year by Panama’s Ministry of Public Security, the exercise promotes interoperability and military-to-military relationships. Army photo by Sgt. Alexis Velez

Seventeen countries, from the Caribbean, Central America, South America -- including the United States -- participated in the ceremony opening the competition, which is hosted by Panama’s Ministry of Public Security.

“It’s a great honor to be here,” said Army Col. Brian Greata, Special Operations Command South’s deputy commanding officer. “This competition gives us the opportunity to establish and strengthen relations with special operations professionals in our region facing criminal and terrorist challenges.”

Fuerzas Comando has been held annually since 2004, and this is the first time Panama has hosted it. Through friendly competition, officials said, this exercise promotes interoperability, military-to-military relationships, increases training knowledge, and improves regional security. 

“Together we will improve our ability to defeat our challenges,” Greata said.

Technical and Tactical Skills

The nine-day event will test participants’ technical and tactical skills and will include a distinguished visitor program.

“In this regional event, you all are the best of the best of the nations you are representing,” said Alexis Bethancourt Yau, Panama’s public security minister. “So make your comrades proud by giving everything you have in every moment."

The special operations skills competition will include a physical fitness test, confidence course, close-quarters combat, marksmanship, a ruck march and an obstacle course. 

Greata closed his remarks by urging those participating to share ideas and to build trust and knowledge.