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U.S. Army South closes annual staff talks with Chilean army

November 16, 2012

By Eric R. Lucero, U.S. Army South Public Affairs

SANTIAGO, Chile -- Maj. Gen. Frederick S. Rudesheim, the U.S. Army South commanding general, joined Brig. Gen. Alejandro Arancibia, the Chilean army international affairs director, during the closing ceremony of the army-to-army staff talks between the two armies here Nov. 7, to sign a memorandum of understanding detailing more than two dozen events that are scheduled to be conducted throughout the next year.

The staff talks were held Nov. 5-7 and served as a bilateral forum for strategic-level discussion between the two armies. The engagements enhance army-to-army contacts and mutual understanding, provide partner nation armies with insights concerning specific U.S. Army programs and areas of mutual interest, and assist partner nation armies like Chile in areas of modernization and reform.

The U.S. Army has engaged in annual bilateral staff talks with the Chilean army for the past seven years. Army South, on behalf of the U.S. Army, conducts the annual staff talks with the Chilean army.

"The staff talks are intended to allow us to both agree on things and I think most importantly, to disagree on things and understand the position of the other country's military," said Rudesheim. "Anytime you have a forum to do that, you have a very special opportunity to understand another nation's army and understand what its concerns are and how its leadership views things. That professional aspect is absolutely critical."

Chilean Lt. Gen. Antonio Cordero, the Chilean chief of staff, agreed with Rudesheim's assessment and emphasized the critical nature of being able to work side-by-side to find collaborative solutions to mutual challenges.

"Our armies have many similarities," said Cordero. "These talks offer an important opportunity for us to come together to exchange ideas. By working together, we can make our armies stronger and more versatile to be able to meet future challenges."

This year's staff talks were centered on two themes: Promoting Regional Security and Stability and Strengthening Doctrine and Operational Capacity to Improve Interoperability. Specific areas of discussion included increasing the Chilean army's participation in joint regional support exercises and operations with the U.S. Army, increasing participation in the institutes and academies of the U.S. and Chilean armies for the purpose of exchanging doctrinal aspects of education and training, and supporting the Chilean army in developing a certification process for its armored units.

In addition, the two delegations discussed strategies to improve the Chilean army's aviation interoperability capability and military health capabilities.

The two armies also agreed to conduct a series of future peacekeeping training events, to include subject matter exchanges, and support humanitarian and disaster response operations and exercises. In addition, the Chilean army is considering sending a team of engineers to participate in Beyond the Horizon 2013, scheduled to take place in El Salvador. Beyond the Horizon is an annual exercise deploying military engineers and medical professionals to partner nation countries for training, while providing services to rural communities. Beyond the Horizon is part of U.S. Southern Command's annual humanitarian and civic assistance program.

With its highly capable military and law enforcement agencies serving as models of professionalism in the region and supporting exercises like BTH, Chile is a key player in enhancing security in the region.

"Chile is considered one of our most important partners for security cooperation in the region," said Maj. Mario Castro, the Army South southern cone desk officer. "It is very important to maintain and improve relations with countries that have strong capabilities like Chile. Staff talks like this improve the interoperability of both armies to be able to conduct mutual participation in humanitarian or disaster relief exercises like Beyond the Horizons or Fuerzas Aliadas Unidas."

The staff talks have been instrumental in enhancing the interoperability and cooperation between the two armies, which have contributed to increased stability in the region.

As a result, U.S. forces' capabilities have also improved by gaining lessons learned from the Chilean army in peacekeeping and disaster response operations.

"The U.S. military is entering a transition period in which it is imperative that we work closely with our partners, especially with capable armies like Chile, which has troops deployed throughout the world in different peace and stability missions," said Maj. Lance Awbrey, the Army section chief in Chile. "These staff talks help forge that close relationship ensuring that our partnership remains strong into the future."

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