July 18, 2017 —
Winners of last year's competition returned the trophy to Paraguyan Army Brig. Gen. Hector Limenza during the opening ceremony of Fuerzas Comando 2017. He held the coveted trophy in the air. This event initiated the 13th annual Fuerzas Comando competition in Mariano Roque Alonso, Paraguay, July 17, 2017. The 11-day competition features 20 countries challenging one another in 15 events that test strength, endurance and perseverance.
"Fuerzas Comando allows us to strengthen our relationships and our ability to combat the common threats of our hemisphere. None of us can face them alone," said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Angel Martinez, deputy director of training and exercises for Special Operations Command South (SOCSOUTH). "So, I challenge everyone to make new friends, strengthen existing relationships and seek to build trust between one another."
Fuerzas Comando is a multinational special operations skills competition and combating terrorism fellowship program sponsored by U.S. Southern Command and executed by SOCSOUTH. Ten countries have shared the responsibility of hosting the event. The first year the competition was held in El Salvador and 13 countries participated. Since then the involvement in the competition has expanded and Paraguay is this year's hosting country.
The exercise promotes partner nation military-to-military relationships, increases training knowledge and improves regional security. Twenty countries comprised of security forces from the Caribbean, Central America, South America and the United States are participating this year.
"This competition forms strong bonds between Latin American special forces," said Luis Alberto Mollapaza, a Peruvian special forces officer who competed in last year's competition. "It gives us an opportunity to see and learn other countries' techniques they use that may be helpful for us to employ."
In his speech Martinez, a Green Beret, urged listeners to look beyond the competition to truly understand the purpose.
Every event is geared toward strengthening ties and increasing the expertise among the region's special forces. The end result is a fraternal community of elite forces who are able to collaborate to support security and stability in the region.
The first event began shortly after the ceremony, which was the physical fitness test, and was comprised of situps, pushups, pullups and a 4-mile run. Over the next 11 days, the teams will compete in a variety of physical and mental challenges like advanced marksmanship, a 12-mile road march and an obstacle course, just to name a few. During this time, they will teach and learn from one another, and in more ways than one, they all win. All of this culminates when the best special forces team in the Western Hemisphere is announced at the end of the competition.