By Marcos Ommati/Diálogo and Special Operations Command South Public Affairs July 27, 2018 When Diálogo asked Colombian Army Brigadier General Juan Pablo Forero what team he was rooting for, the head of the Exercises and Coalition Affairs directorate at U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), said: “I know that now I have two countries to cheer for, but Colombia will always be first, with the United States coming in close second.” The conversation took place on the eighth day –July 23rd– of Fuerzas Comando 2018, and Gen. Forero was spot on. Two days later, the competition ended with the Colombians winning the trophy, with 2,885 points, and the United States in second place, with 2,605 points. Ecuador, Brazil, and Honduras followed with a slight point difference between each other. Nine days of competition Military and police Special Operations Forces from Argentina, Belize, Chile, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, and Trinidad and Tobago also participated in the event from July16-26, 2018. The grueling nine-day competition tested the elite forces in physical fitness, weapons marksmanship, aquatic skills and tactical capabilities, concluding with an award ceremony on July 26th to recognize the top team in each category. “It’s a great honor to be here,” said U.S. Army Colonel Brian Greata, deputy commander of Special Operations Command South (SOCSOUTH). “This competition gives us the opportunity to establish and strengthen relations with special operations professionals in our region facing criminal and terrorist challenges.” Panama hosted the 14th iteration of Fuerzas Comando for the first time in 2018.The multinational SOUTHCOM-sponsored and SOCSOUTH-directed Special Operations Forces competition took place in Panama’s Police Academy. Senior Leader Seminar A Senior Leader Seminar took place simultaneously to the competition. During the 2018 edition, senior military and government officials from more than 20 nations gathered in Panama City, July 23rd-25th, to discuss opportunities to enhance regional and hemispheric cooperation and the impact transnational, transregional threat networks have in regional security and stability. Alexis Bethancourt, minister of Public Safety of Panama, opened the event and expressed the importance of facing the challenges of the future by creating a system of collective security to counter threats from terrorism, drug trafficking, and transnational organized crime.The main goal of the event, he added, is to seek strengthened solutions through cooperation mechanisms to defend the Western Hemisphere. “Hemispheric security is a joint commitment, and forums such as this are very important for an open dialogue and exchange,” he said. “Fuerzas Comando is extremely valuable for the relations between the members of the Special OperationsForces of different countries, and an opportunity to strengthen the ties of friendship and the exchange of information between them,” Paraguayan Army Major General Eulogio Ramón Nortega Peña, commander of the First Infantry Division and a Fuerzas Comando veteran, told Diálogo. Paraguay hosted the event in 2006 and 2017. The exercise and Senior Leader Seminar strengthen regional and multinational cooperation, mutual trust, readiness, and interoperability of Special Operations Forces in the Western Hemisphere. Fuerzas Comando takes place annually in rotating partner nations since 2004 for a display of physical fitness, weapons marksmanship, tactical capabilities, teamwork, and cooperation.