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    Colombian officer joins SPMAGTF-SC as deputy commander

    Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force refines humanitarian skills

    Photo By Sgt. Juan Madrigal | A Marine with the Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force - Southern Command...... read more read more



    Story by Sgt. Booker Thomas 

    U.S. Marine Corps Forces, South

    For the first time in history, the U.S. Marines and sailors of Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force - Southern Command are being joined on their deployment to Latin America by a member of a partner nation military force.

    After the SPMAGTF-SC deployment to Central America last year, the staff of U.S. Marine Corps Forces, South began working with partner nations in the region to have their service members be an integral part of the 2018 deployment. It was intended to be the first step in eventually putting together a multinational maritime task force - service members, equipment and aircraft from multiple nations aboard naval vessels from multiple nations coming together to respond to the issues and threats that impact the region.

    The leaders of the Colombian Naval Infantry, or Infantería de Marina Colombiana, were the first to seize the opportunity, and Colombian Naval Infantry Lt. Col. Erick H. Del Rio joined the SPMAGTF aboard Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, May 10. Del Rio is not only the first partner nation service member to join SPMAGTF-SC, but most importantly he is playing a critical role in the unit's command structure as the SPMAGTF-SC deputy commander.

    “My role as the deputy commander is to support the planning process and decision making on personnel deployments, training, and engineering projects with partner nations," said Del Rio. "My responsibility is also to identify operational priorities for SPMAGTF, and to represent the MAGTF with partner nations and the Colombian Navy as well.”

    Del Rio graduated the U.S. Naval Academy in the summer of 1996 and was commissioned to second lieutenant. In his 23 years of service, Del Rio has had a variety of command experience in the Colombian Naval Infantry. Before being selected for his current position, Del Rio served as commander of the Colombian Marine Mobility Battalion.

    “When I heard about the opportunity to lead real life operations with the United States, I immediately applied for the position,” said Del Rio. “And the competition was tough, because we had a lot of well-prepared officers.”

    Although it is his first time commanding U.S. Marines, Del Rio’s career has been filled with prior experience with training and attending formal schools with Marines.

    “Due to the close relationship the United States and Colombia has had for many years, I had the opportunity to be trained by Marine mobile training teams when I was a second lieutenant in Colombia,” said Del Rio. “I was also given the opportunity to attend officer courses in the United States whenever I was promoted throughout my career.”

    “Throughout my entire career, I’ve lived by and expected of my Marines four rules,” said Del Rio. “Always tell the truth. Always give 100 percent. Don’t guess, make sound and timely decisions. Everything is about the mission, nothing is personal.”

    Through SPMAGTF-SC’s deployment to Central America this summer, Del Rio expects to master his understanding of the Marine Corps’ unique approach to operations - the MAGTF.

    “I have many expectations from this experience,” said Del Rio. “Firstly, I will be able to refine my knowledge of the MAGTF’s structure and operations.”

    “Through integration with SPMAGTF’s commanding staff, I can further understand the mission we’re called to support, and the process we utilize to ensure that mission’s accomplishment," added Del Rio. "It interests me to learn more about the MAGTF and to participate in real life operations, that’s something I cannot wait for.”

    The next few months will be a learning experience for Del Rio and the U.S. Marines as they continue their operations for Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force - Southern Command.



    Date Taken: 05.10.2018
    Date Posted: 05.14.2018 09:59
    Story ID: 276750
    Location: CAMP LEJEUNE, NC, US 

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