More than 300 U.S. and Colombian soldiers stood in formation on the parade ground at the military base in Tolemaida, Colombia, during the opening ceremony for Exercise Southern Vanguard 23 (ExSV23). Exercise Southern Vanguard is the U.S. Army South’s premier annual training exercise that takes place at the operational and tactical levels and is designed to increase interoperability between U.S. and Western Hemisphere forces.
“Your role here in this exercise is the most important phase in building partnerships between nations.” said Brig. Gen. Rodney Boyd, deputy adjutant general of the Illinois National Guard, during his opening remarks at the ceremony. “Your work is what makes our armies interoperable.”
He went on to explain some of what his Soldiers assigned to the 130th Infantry Regiment, 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Illinois Army National Guard can expect to work alongside their Colombian Army partners.
“Over the next week, junior NCOs and company officers will take over and develop the relationship between our two countries at the tactical level,” he said. “You will make deep personal connections by conducting combined tactical operations at the corporate level.”
Brig. Gen. Fredy Coy, Chief of Staff of Colombian Army Operations, highlighted the relationship between the armies of the United States and Colombia and their history of interoperability dating back more than 50 years.
“This relationship started a long time ago when we responded in Korea and conducted operations together,” he said during his remarks. “In Korea, it was the first time that we were interoperable with our partner countries.”
While combined training exercises such as ExSV23 rely on the lethality, efficiency and interoperability of all armies involved, lasting friendships are just as important.
Boyd recalled his experience as a battalion commander training alongside the Ghanaian army, explaining that among his fondest memories are the friendships he made while working alongside his Ghanaian partners.
“As of today, I am in contact with a member of the Ghanaian army whom I met during this exercise,” Boyd said. “I hope you all build similar memories over the next week.”
Coy concluded his remarks by thanking the planners of both countries for the development and planning of the exercise and professing his hope that ExSV23 will be a great exercise for everyone involved.
At the end of the ceremony, the soldiers of the two armies, instead of separating, lingered to discuss the training that awaits them throughout the duration of the exercise.