Delegates from the U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet met with members of the Colombian Navy, May 20-21, during an Operational Naval Committee (ONC) conference.
Hosted by U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command (USNAVSO) in Mayport, the ONC brings together representatives from the U.S. and Colombian Navy so they may meet in person and share insights on their countries mutual goals of maritime security in Latin America.
Rear Adm. George Ballance, commander, USNAVSO and U.S. 4th Fleet, welcomed the Colombian delegates.
“The focus of these conferences has much to do with working toward mutual security goals between our two navies,” said Ballance. “But, I hope you do not only concentrate on work; as these are opportunities for us to get together as friends, develop relationships, and learn about the culture of our two nations.”
Ballance also mentioned the importance of continuing to find unique ways to increase information sharing amongst the two navies, especially in today’s resource challenged environment. He discussed the critical role of secure information exchange systems in advancing the navies’ ability to collaborate during exercises and day-to-day real world operations.
“It is a great opportunity to be a part of this ONC,” said Capt. Juan Hogan, deputy, Maritime Operations Center director, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet, U.S. Delegation ONC chairman.
The U.S. and Colombian’s have a strong maritime partnership and have conducted several multinational exercises and operations together. The Colombian Navy participated in PANAMAX 2013 as the Combined Force Maritime Component Commander (CFMCC) and hosted UNITAS 2013 in Cartagena.
“We look forward to receiving the Colombian navy here in Mayport once again as the CMFCC for PANAMAX 2014,” the Navy said in the press release.
“I know this conference will go a long way in preparing for future engagements with Colombia,” said Hogan, a Federal Way, Wash., native.
Though ONCs have been held for years, the agreements they produce and engagements they lead to directly support the nation’s maritime strategy, which emphasizes cooperative relationships with international partners.
Press Release, May 27, 2014; Image: Navy