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    Kentucky Guardsmen, Ecuador's special forces unite in urban warfare exchange

    Kentucky Guardsmen, Ecuador's special forces unite in urban warfare exchange

    Photo By Capt. Cody Stagner | Kentucky Army National Guard Sgt. 1st Class Gregory Thiemann, from the 1st Battalion,...... read more read more

    LATACUNGA, ECUADOR

    03.22.2024

    Story by Capt. Cody Stagner 

    Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs Office   

    By Capt. Cody Stagner, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs

    LATACUNGA, Ecuador — In a demonstration of international collaboration and shared learning, four infantry Soldiers from the Kentucky Army National Guard recently engaged in a subject matter expert exchange with 18 members of the Ecuadorian special forces in Latacunga, Ecuador, from March 18-22, 2024.

    This initiative, as part of the Kentucky National Guard State Partnership Program, aimed to enhance military tactics in urban environments through an interagency and international relationship-building effort.

    Col. Gustavo Iturralde, the commander of the 9th Special Forces "Patria" Brigade (BFE) of the Ecuadorian Army, welcomed the 1st Battalion, 149th Infantry “Mountain Warriors” on their SPP engagement in Ecuador.

    Iturralde conveyed to the U.S. troops, "There's a significant reason behind your visit here."

    He explained that a recent security crisis led to military action at several prisons, including one at Cotopaxi, across from the brigade's base.

    "This is not their typical mission," Iturralde said about their intervention at these prisons.

    The BFE, based in Latacunga, is known for training their Army’s airborne paratroopers that specialize as frogmen, commandos, operational free jumpers, snipers, dog guides, and those in mountain warfare operations.

    Ecuadorian Capt. Israel Nivelo, Operations Officer for the 25th Special Forces Group, explained the significance of urban operations in Ecuador.

    “In the new scenarios we are facing, it’s important to take into account that new threats will occur in urban areas, and we want to minimize non-combatant casualties and collateral damage to property and infrastructure,” he said.

    Nivelo explained that the Ecuadorian military’s typical missions historically center on conventional warfare. However, a recent surge in gang violence has prompted a shift toward preparing for asymmetrical warfare and addressing internal domestic issues.

    This subject-matter expert exchange provided insights into dealing with unconventional warfare and means of defeating the enemy while maintaining the goodwill of the populace.

    The significance of the event was enhanced by the participation of multiple branches.

    Participating Ecuadorians were one team each from the tactical intervention groups of the Army, Air Force infantry, Navy infantry (similar to U.S. Marines), and a recently established Army urban operations team.

    One of several training sites used on this engagement was referred to by Nivelo as the “Polygon.” This area was designed to mimic a village with several wooden houses and offered a secure environment for training.

    According to Nivelo, the goal is to have these elite groups participate in the information exchange and bring any new knowledge back to their units to improve the quality of their training.

    U.S. Army Maj. Ryan Hubbs, infantry officer and the KYNG’s acting state Inspector General, highlighted the complexity of urban operations and the value of international partnerships.

    “As a soldier in the Kentucky National Guard, I have conducted urban operations on both foreign and domestic soil,” said Hubbs. “It is the future of modern warfare. I can say with certainty that because of complexity and the need to reduce collateral damage and unnecessary human suffering, urban operations will always be extremely difficult.

    “Each time I work with other nations, I learn tactics and techniques that would not have occurred to me,” he said. “Having this kind of perspective and unique tools will definitely help me be more flexible as an infantry officer when dealing with different threats.”

    Attaining new learned knowledge of urban tactics and techniques was the primary objective for Nivelo, Hubbs, and the other troops there.

    A secondary, yet vital, objective of the mission was to strengthen the partnership and foster cultural exchange.

    Beyond discussion of tactical training, the exchange included climbing the Cotopaxi stratovolcano and exploring Ecuadorian traditions, building camaraderie and mutual respect among the different military branches and forces.

    “Sharing in a joint hardship like climbing Cotopaxi was extremely beneficial in gauging the toughness of our forces and bonding us through shared hardship,” said Hubbs as he praised the professionalism, physical ability, and tactical proficiency of the Ecuadorian special forces.

    “I would fight beside these guys any day,” said Hubbs.

    This exchange, continuing a partnership with the South American country since 1996, highlights the importance of international and interagency collaborations, interoperability, and relationship building in boosting the skills, readiness, and operational effectiveness of both militaries.

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 03.22.2024
    Date Posted: 04.15.2024 00:30
    Story ID: 468163
    Location: LATACUNGA, EC

    Web Views: 129
    Downloads: 0

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