ANCON, Peru, May 12, 2016 — After 11 days of Olympic-level exertion, 160 special operations competitors from 20 countries across the Americas and the Caribbean know through experience how competition and cooperation can coexist. The sport and spirit of Fuerzas Comando, a U.S. Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM)-sponsored international competition and partnership, culminated in a closing ceremony May 12, 2016 in Ancon, Peru.
Colombia, for the ninth time in 13 years, mightily raised the Fuerzas Comando cup. Honduras placed second, and Peru placed third. The U.S. team, comprised of members assigned to the 7th Special Forces Group, placed fifth.
The Special Operations Command South (SOCSOUTH)-executed Fuerzas Comando "is a skills competition like no other," said U.S. Navy Adm. Kurt W. Tidd, commander, USSOUTHCOM. Through competition, Tidd said, "We have forged a single team from the finest teams across our region."
That team faces common threats: terrorism, organized crime, narcotics trafficking, money laundering, illegal migration and human trafficking.
In the face of such widespread challenges, special operations forces must train at an elite level.
Like these massive real-world challenges, then, Fuerzas Comando tests the resolve of these elite warriors. They must train rigorously for such a demanding competition.
Competitors learn "how tough they can be," said Brian A. Nichols, U.S. Ambassador to Peru.
Fuerzas Comando 2016 competitors faced 15 physically and mentally challenging events. Many were outright massive and grueling; competitors overcame both the Andes mountains and the Pacific Ocean.
Some competitors reached the point of exhaustion during an almost 20-kilometer hike to the top of a 3,000-meter mountain in the Andes near Santiago de Tuna, Peru.
In the timed water event, competitors: carried a boat and telephone pole about one kilometer, swam in the ocean roughly 500 meters, rowed about 1750 meters, sprinted a quarter mile, and fired 9mm pistols for accuracy with arms shaking from cold and fatigue.
The competitors proved they are "an elite vanguard, a brotherhood of special operations forces warriors that spans the globe," Tidd said.
The brotherhood and single-team mentality aligns with the mission of Fuerzas Comando, promoting military-to-military relationships, increasing interoperability, and improving regional security.
"This is a great event to build interoperability and esprit de corps between the forces of the Americas," Nichols said. "It's been incredible to see how the teams have developed and how the countries have focused on the key skills they need in their own forces and within the region."