COVEÑAS, Colombia -- Marines with Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force South took their first step onto Colombian soil, July 16, after shuffling off an MV-22 carrying packs weighing more than 80 pounds. They were greeted by Colombian Marines with handshakes and smiles, eager to build a long lasting relationship.
Approximately 40 Marines and sailors with SPMAGTF-South were there to exchange information on various military topics with the Colombian Marines at Coveñas Colombian Marine Corps Base.
“Over the past few days we covered counter improvised explosive device tactics, combat lifesaver classes, Marine Corps Marksmanship and the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program,” said Capt. Blaine Barby, the Ground Combat Element commander for SPMAGTF-South.
Both American and Colombian Marine instructors exchanged information on each subject and instructed Marines aboard the base in Coveñas.
The SPMAGTF came to Colombia aboard the future amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6) during its transit around South America. As the first stop on the ship's transit, the visit to Colombia also represents the first time Marines and sailors have been tactically inserted into an environment from the newly built ship.
“Being on the first Osprey off the ship carrying ground combat troops was an awesome experience,” said Barby. “Everything went great. They received us very well and were happy to have us.”
The Colombian Marines were well prepared to teach the U.S. Marines and sailors with SPMAGTF-South, and were excited to have them at their base. The Marines said they were often asked when they would come back.
“The mission went as it should, perfect,” said Cpl. Miguel Fernandez, a warehouse clerk with SPMAGTF-South. “We learned a lot from them and they learned a lot from us. It felt really good to be a translator for them because I was able to understand their stories and what they go through. It was very rewarding.”
During the four days at the base, the Marines and sailors of SPMAGTF-South completed their mission to create a strong relationship with the Colombian Marines. They look forward to the upcoming opportunities to visit and train with other partner-nations as they continue on the transit, “America visits the Americas.”