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News | March 25, 2021

Army South, Central American partners hold first-ever Central American Working Group Principals Meeting

By Leanne Thomas U.S. Army South Public Affairs

U.S. Army South hosted the first-ever Central American Working Group Meeting of Principals March 22-23 at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston for army commanders representing El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and the U.S. to plan cooperation activities for the next five years.

Maj. Gen. Daniel R. Walrath, U.S. Army South commanding general, represented the U.S. Army, and representatives from other partner nations were Col. Mario Adalberto Figueroa Carcamo, El Salvador chief of the general staff of the Army of El Salvador; Guatemalan Army Maj. Gen. Walfre Omar Carranza Espana, chief of the national defense staff; and Brig. Gen. Manuel de Jesus Aguilera, Honduran Army commander.

“On behalf of the Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army, I am honored and proud to be here today to work with you and your armies during the first-time ever Central American Working Group,” Walrath said. “Our armies continue to serve as beacons of hope and stability during difficult times. Today, an accelerating spiral of instability gripping this hemisphere as the pandemic has increased pressure on all of our countries. That is why this Central American Working Group is so important. It will enable our armies to better coordinate our activities to address the many shared challenges that are before us.”

The Central American Working Group idea emerged during the Conference of American Armies in the Dominican Republic of 2019. In August of last year, partner nation armies came together during the Central American Working Group Subordinates Meeting to identify areas for further cooperation. It is during the principals meeting when senior leaders from each partner nation army confirm the opportunities for regional collaboration.

“The guidance I gave to my staff was that the activities we agree upon should focus on strengthening our partnerships by building measurable interoperability and readiness for our Armies; enhancing our combined ability to operate against mutual threats and respond to a crisis, and posturing ourselves to sustain our major bilateral activities,” Walrath said.

During the forum, Walrath held key leader engagements with all three partner nation army commanders, and the leaders agreed to bilateral activities and to explore the possibility of conducting a combined multilateral exercise in the Tri-border region focusing on counter-threat network operations.

“Many things have happened this year that we could have never anticipated, and here we are today, our partnerships remain strong, enduring … and this gives us the strength to stand and face these shared challenges together,” Walrath said. “As we continue to look forward and build upon these successes, our efforts should shape a clear, shared vision. I look forward to continuing to strengthen our relationship by focusing on stronger security partnerships, and regional stability and security.”