Fuerzas Commando is a friendly but spirited competition of special operations military and police units from Central and South America. The competition, which began in 2004, is sponsored by the United States Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) and orchestrated by the U.S. Special Operations Command South (SOCSOUTH). The 2019 competition was hosted in Santiago, Chile at the Chilean Army’s Brigada de Operaciones Especiales “Lautaro” in Santiago.
The competition took place over a nine-day period, lasting from June 17 through closing ceremonies on June 27. The Colombians took home the trophy for the top finishing team for the tenth time in the 15 years the competition has been conducted. Colombia also won the Fuerzas Commando in Chile in 2005, Paraguay 2006, Honduras 2007, USA 2008, Colombia 2012 and 2014, Guatemala 2015, Peru 2016, and Panama in 2018.
The Chilean SF unit finished in second place while Ecuador came in third. The team from the United States came in sixth.
Fuerzas Commando had two distinct parts: a special operations skills competition and a senior leader seminar that is focused on countering terrorism. The purpose of the seminar is to build stronger partnerships while improving regional security. This is for senior SOF leadership in each country and/or cabinet-level counterterrorism decision-makers.
The competition consisted of a series of individual and collective unit critical tasks and events, including:
- Physical fitness test
- Obstacle course
- Rifle and pistol qualification
- Close-quarters combat test
- Forced march, obstacle course, and a water event conducted as a single event
The events test the participants’ skills and proficiency under unknown and stressful conditions, simulating scenarios the units may encounter during the performance of their assigned missions.
Twenty countries sent some of their best special operators to the competition: Argentina, Belize, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay, and the United States.
Admiral Craig Faller, Commander of USSOUTHCOM said, “We are proud of what we have done; we have a very powerful force in each of our countries. It is an honor to be with everyone here and to look at warriors to one side and another. We have already won comrades in arms. Today we are all one team.”
Faller continued, “Look at the union of all these forces, which are prepared together against common threats, but we also share so much in a good sense…we share values, democracy, the rule of law, economic prosperity and even hopes.”
Faller addressed all of the soldiers who took part in the competition and stressed unity. “We are one, we are brothers, we are companions,” he said.
Faller thanked Chile for hosting the 2019 Fuerzas Commando and emphasized the importance of strengthening ties between countries, because “creating trust makes a difference between our nations and the future.”
Images courtesy of U.S. Army, SOCSOUTH. Video courtesy of Chilean Army