NEW ORLEANS, La. --
The Commandant of the Infantería de Marina Colombiana [Colombian Marine Corps] and Sergeant Major of the Colombian Marine Corps completed a weeklong visit with the U.S. Marine Corps, starting in New Orleans, La., Feb. 28, 2023, and ending at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., March 3, 2023.
Brig. Gen. Jorge Federico Torres Mora and Sgt. Maj. Julian Adolfo Medina traveled across continents to discuss key topics affecting both countries’ Marine Corps and to advance the elite fighting forces through an enduring friendship between individuals and their organizations. The visit came just weeks after U.S. Marine leaders attached to U.S. Southern Command went to Colombia to gain insight on their riverine training program, discuss future military exercises, and to forge relationships.
Lt. Gen. David G. Bellon, commander, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, South, greeted the Colombian commandant and his staff upon arrival and discussed training opportunities for both forces in their respective countries.
“As the [U.S.] Marine Corps moves toward Force Design 2030 and advances the way the Service operates in the littorals, MARFORSOUTH plans to leverage the strength and experience of the Colombian Marines who are regarded as some of the best riverine forces in the world,” said Bellon. “U.S. and Colombian Marines have a strong partnership that is rooted in values, friendship, and exceptionally high military standards.”
After departing New Orleans, the Colombian delegation continued north to meet with various leaders like the Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps and Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps. They also visited Training and Education Command where they discussed assessing amphibious operations and Marine Corps Recruiting Command for information on the Basic Recruiter’s Course.
“We are aligned not only as a fighting force, but in our culture, our values, and our desire for regional security and stability.” Gen. Eric M. Smith, Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps
U.S. Marine leaders also brought Torres to The Basic School to show how the U.S. Marine Corps develops Marine officers and to further personnel exchanges between the services.
Due to the importance and responsibility the U.S. Marine Corps places on their enlisted force, Medina also met with senior enlisted leaders at the Senior Enlisted Academy to better understand how the Marine Corps systematically and culturally develops enlisted leadership.
Torres explained how this visit allowed him to see firsthand the U.S. Marine Corps’ emphasis on developing human talent as the fundamental pillar that builds leadership, integrity, and a military mindset. Reflecting on the time spent with the senior leaders, “this was a valuable experience that will contribute to strengthening training and doctrine in our Corps, which will increase the interoperability of both Marine Corps for the future.”
U.S. Marines have enjoyed many opportunities to train with the Colombian Marine Corps in different events such as subject matter expert exchanges, mobile training teams, personnel exchanges, and various multinational exercises such as TRADEWINDS and UNITAS. For 2023, Colombia will host Exercise UNITAS, the longest-running annual multinational maritime exercise in the world, which is scheduled to take place at multiple locations there later this year. These types of events provide a venue to learn from each other on topics such as amphibious planning, expeditionary logistics, and leadership development. Littoral and expeditionary operations are a major focus of the two nations and facilitate increased interoperability and unity of effort.
Recently, U.S. Marines had the opportunity to travel to Colombia to learn about riverine operations and engage with Colombian Marine Corps leadership to discuss the training, employment, and future of small boat operations within the U.S. Marine Corps. They visited the Riverine Center of Excellence at their training facility in Turbo, Gulf of Uraba, which is designed to be the premier riverine training center in the region to teach and exchange Colombian expertise to partners. Additionally, Colombia is actively engaged in security missions within their country focused on counter-narcotics, counterterrorism, and counterinsurgency which contributes to their capabilities and effectiveness in riverine operations.
Photo by Lance Cpl. Jennifer Delacruz
Brig. Gen. Jorge Federico Torres Mora, commandant of the Colombian Marine Corps, speaks about joint military opportunities during a command brief at Marine Corps Support Facility New Orleans, Feb. 28, 2023. During the brief, Colombian Marines and U.S. Marines discussed key engagements to strengthen partnerships, interoperability, and naval integration. Torres, and the Colombian delegation, traveled to various locations within the United States to conduct key leadership engagements aimed at advancing institutional knowledge and processes. These engagements are critical elements to maintaining interoperability and to continue to strengthen the partnership between the two marine corps.
“The Colombian Marine Corps are experts in riverine training, logistics support to riverine operations, and how Colombian Marines maneuver from the sea into the inland rivers via multiple crafts,” said Col. Victor Pastor, 4th Marine Division chief of staff, who participated in a MARFORSOUTH and Marine Forces Reserve briefing to the Colombian delegation here during the visit. “These actions accentuate years of perfecting tactics, techniques and procedures the U.S. Marine Corps could not only benefit from but also complement with engineering and intelligence resources as outlined in the Infantry Battalion 2030 concept. The relationship with the Colombian Marine Corps presents opportunities for valuable infantry training and experimentation with small craft in a maritime environment.”
In order to leverage the Colombian Marine Corps’ operational expertise, the U.S. Marine Corps intends to integrate riverine and littoral training into UNITAS 2023.
“Our cooperation and close ties will be reflected during the development of the UNITAS 2023 exercise, which will be based in our country,” said Torres. “Employing the different capabilities of the participating partners, we will continue to strengthen the brotherhood between countries that allow us to maintain hemispheric stability.”
U.S. Marine Corps Forces, South, considers these engagements to be critical in maintaining interoperability with Colombian forces and to continue to strengthen the partnership between the two Marine Corps in advancing institutional knowledge and processes.
“The value and importance of our relationship with Colombia cannot be overstated,” said Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Eric M. Smith. “We are aligned not only as a fighting force, but in our culture, our values, and our desire for regional security and stability.”