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    Marine Leaders of the Americas Conference comes to a close

    Marine Leaders of the Americas Conference comes to a close

    Photo By Sgt. Derek Picklesimer | Members of the Infantería de Marina de Colombia stand in formation during the arrival...... read more read more



    Story by Sgt. Alisa Helin 

    U.S. Marine Corps Forces, South

    CARTAGENA, Colombia - The Marine Leaders of the Americas Conference 2015 concluded after a closing ceremony, August 26, 2015.

    Co-hosted by the Infantería de Marina de Colombia and U.S. Marine Corps Forces, South, the conference provided an opportunity for 15 partnered nations to combine experiences and work together focusing on continuing relationships and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts.

    Lieutenant Gen. Robert B. Neller, commanding general of U.S. Marine Corps Forces Command, represented the Commandant of the Marine Corps alongside regional naval infantries from Argentina, Belize, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay and Uruguay.

    “When I was given the opportunity to come to this meeting I was very excited,” Neller said. “Because I knew in that in the next four years we’ll have the chance to work together even more closely than we do now.”

    The conference concentrated on continuing relationships within the Western Hemisphere focusing on improving Marine Corps training programs and enhancing naval infantry support to operations.

    “The subjects that were addressed at this conference went well due to our partnerships,” said Major Gen. Luis Jesús Suárez Castillo, the Commander of the Infantería de Marina de Colombia. “In this private setting, we built bridges. Each counterpart can talk about solutions and about their own capabilities and capacities about technology and training that could be beneficial to each other.”

    The leaders were able to discuss interests in HA/DR within small working groups and in a one-on-one setting. These bi-lateral sessions may be a stepping stone to future relationships and operations.

    “Apart from us working alone, it opens ups the avenue and the ability for use to work and communicate jointly with other countries,” said Brigadier Gen. David Jones, commander of the Belize Self Defense Force. “You have an understanding of how each other works and what each other can bring to the table to help each other.”

    Senior leaders also had a chance to tour the Marine Infantry Training Base in Coveñas, Colombia. The island is home to three recruit battalions, modeled after the Marine Corps’ boot camp of Parris Island, South Carolina, and the Specialist Center where COLMARs non-commissioned officers receive specialized training courses such as drill instructor, military working dog handler and anti-explosives.

    The center is supported by a U.S. Marine Corps gunnery sergeant.

    “Coveñas represents what we have to do to prepare; prepare for amphibious operations, preparation for riverine operations,” said Brigadier Gen. Eric Smith, MARFORSOUTH commanding general.

    Smith also said the facility is needed to train the officers and senior enlisted because we are all the same team.

    “One is not more important than the other. Coveñas has everything we need to train all in one location and that is why it is extremely important. I am grateful to the Colombian military for allowing us to use this facility,” Smith said.

    At the closing ceremony for the conference, Neller and Suárez presented awards to the participants and spouses thanking them for their contribution and participation.

    “I learned a great deal from our discussions, both one-on-one and in our meetings on how we could better coordinate, cooperate and communicate. Thank you for what you do for your countries, your Marines and your Navy,” Neller said.



    Date Taken: 08.27.2015
    Date Posted: 08.28.2015 13:02
    Story ID: 174551
    Location: CARTAGENA, CO 

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