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    Regional, international partners tour Florida Guard facilities

    Regional, international partners tour Florida Guard facilities

    Photo By Sgt. 1st Class Carmen Fleischmann | Army Col. Erick Rolando Montiel Aldana, Commander, 1st Infantry Brigade from...... read more read more

    Starke, FL (July 14, 2016) – Central American partner nations visited Camp Blanding Joint Training Center (CBJTC), and other Florida National Guard (FLNG) facilities, in hopes of strengthening their relationship and viewing first-hand the capabilities for training their forces to combat transnational organized crime (CTOC).

    A recent Regionally Aligned Forces (RAF) mission united Soldiers from the Florida Army National Guard’s 53rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team and other units, with military and police forces of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

    While state partnership programs within the FLNG encourage nations and regions to share best practices, the RAF mission gave the organization an opportunity to actually train some of the tactics that are required to be successful in CTOC.

    “We believe it was a successful mission, and now we had the opportunity to extend an invitation to our partners from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, and through SOUTHCOM and U.S. Army South, we were able to bring these partners we had just trained with to Florida to show a little bit more in depth the capabilities of our Counterdrug program over at the Counterdrug training facility,” said The Adjutant General of Florida, Maj. Gen. Michael A. Calhoun. “They got a chance to walk through our facilities, see the capabilities that we have, and how we train our Soldiers, to give them a bigger picture of what the capabilities are here, in hopes of making ourselves even more available to them in the future years.”

    Led by Calhoun, the tour included Brig. Gen. James P. Wong, Deputy Commanding General, Director of Operations and National Guard Affairs United States Army South (ARSOUTH) and Brig. Gen. Greg C. Bacon, The Deputy Adjutant General of Arkansas, as well as representatives from the Central American partner nations: Brig. Gen. René Orlando Ponce Fonseca, Army Commander from Honduras
    Col. Erick Rolando Montiel Aldana, Commander, 1st Infantry Brigade from Guatemala and Col. Héctor Alfredo Solano Cáceres, from El Salvador, Joint Intelligence Director (J2).

    Following an aerial tour of CBJTC aboard a UH-60 Blackhawk, the group arrived at the Live Fire Exercise Shoot House, where they watched the Clay County SWAT team navigate through a reactionary course.

    In addition to witnessing some of the training capabilities offered by CBJTC, the group also learned about the Multijurisdictional Counterdrug Task Force Training program, a federally funded, nationally responsive partnership between the Department of Defense, the National Guard Bureau and the FLNG.

    “[This was] a great experience. I am honored for the opportunity to know the capabilities of the camp and how the focus, the training, operations, and new technology utilized increases the operational capabilities,” said Ponce through a translator. “It was important to see the professionalism of the instructors and all the modern materials.”

    Wong said that the big take away from the visit is that by working together, these partners can wage a stronger fight against a common threat.

    “Within the region, everyone is combating transnational crime, so it’s important to be in a collaborative effort, share good ideas, share capabilities and how we can work more collaboratively,” he said.

    After visiting Honduras, Guatemala and Belize in 2012, Calhoun realized that some of the initiatives and efforts there coincided with the FLNG’s own Counterdrug program. According to him, this was a clear indication that other nations felt the strain of drug trafficking.

    A lifelong Florida resident, with a pharmacy background on the civilian side, Calhoun has seen over the years the build up of high intensity drug areas in the state and the devastating effects it can have on Florida communities. Since taking command of the FLNG nearly a year-and-a-half ago, he has made it his priority to counter international organized crime, which includes not only drugs, but also human trafficking and the importing of high value targets.

    “CTOC is an initiative I think will help the entire United States and our regional partners,” said Calhoun. “Of the five counterdrug programs, we’re taking the lead on one that immediately impacts the state of Florida and generations to come, but that’s just another vehicle that shows the flexibility and the capabilities of the National Guard enterprise as a whole and I’m just glad to be a part of it.”

    The tour of CBJTC concluded with training demonstrations provided by the 3rd Battalion, 20th Special Forces Group. The distinguished visitors then visited the FLNG’s headquarters at historic St. Francis Barracks in St. Augustine and the 125th Fight Wing in Jacksonville.

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 07.15.2016
    Date Posted: 07.15.2016 10:01
    Story ID: 204063
    Location: STARKE, FL, US 
    Hometown: SAN SALVADOR, ES
    Hometown: GUATEMALA CITY, GT
    Hometown: TEGUCIGALPA, HN
    Hometown: MIAMI, FL, US
    Hometown: ST. AUGUSTINE, FL, US

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    Downloads: 1

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