|U.S. Army Lt. Col. Anthony Flood, commander 1st Squadron, 124th Cavalry Regiment, Texas Army National Guard, presents National Army of Guatemala Brig. Gen. Antonio Lopez, commander of the Interagency Task Force Tecun Uman, with a plaque for his unit's successful training. Texas Army National Guardsmen teamed up with U.S. Border Patrol agents to mentor the newly-formed Guatemalan task force, whose mission is to interdict the flow of illicit activities on the Guatemalan borders. (U.S. Army photo by Miguel A. Negron/Released)
GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala – Texas Army National Guardsmen from the 1st Squadron, 124th Cavalry Regiment and members of the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol’s Border Tactical (BORTAC) team, teamed up to mentor Soldiers from the National Army of Guatemala and Guatemalan Federal Police Force officers from Interagency Task Force (IATF) Tecun Uman, at the Guatemala Military Academy, from January - June, 2013. The newly formed Guatemalan Task Force has the mission of interdicting the flow of illicit activities on the Guatemalan borders.
The six-month exchange between the U.S. and Guatemala is part of an initiative led by U.S. Army South to build partner nation capacity with the Central American country and consisted of a series of exercises and events including fundamentals of marksmanship, weapons maintenance, sand table preparations, mounted and dismounted operations, and gunnery skills.
The Guatemalan soldiers and police officers, handpicked for this mission, demonstrated a high degree of motivation and esprit-de-corps. They readily embraced the training, asked questions, and were very willing students, according to U.S. Army Lt. Col. Anthony Flood, Commander, 1st Squadron, 124th Cavalry, who was highly impressed with the proficiency, morale and professionalism of the Guatemalan troops.
“They deliver high quality orders briefs in a format very similar to the U.S. Army, and conduct rehearsals and back briefs very similar to what is taught at the U.S. Army Ranger School,” Flood said. “The Guatemalan Soldiers are a dedicated and professional force, and a credit to the Guatemalan Army.”
Guatemalans and Texas Guardsmen not only trained together, but also lived in the same barracks, exposing them to each other’s military culture.
U.S. Army Capt. Derek Ruschhaupt, Commander of Headquarters Troop, noted different leadership styles between the two militaries.
“It was interesting to see the roles Guatemalan Army platoon leaders assume versus ours,” Ruschhaupt said. “For instance, they march their troops to chow, do on the spot corrections, and provide all the direction and command and control down to the squad level; different from our system where noncommissioned officers perform those duties.”
For U.S. Army 1st Sgt. Chavelo Jimenez, Squadron Command Sgt. Maj., training with the Guatemalan Soldiers and police officers brought back memories from when he first enlisted in the Texas Army National Guard in the early 1980’s. Then, he trained with vehicles and weapons systems similar to the current Guatemalan Jeep-mounted .30 caliber machine gun.
“I remember seeing Jeeps at Fort Hood, so it was great to see these again,” Jimenez said. “However, these Jeeps are much nicer, with air conditioning, nice seats and up-armored. Much better than what we had.”
The exercise culminated in a week-long series of scenario-based missions challenging the Guatemalan Soldiers and police officers with events such as simulated civil disturbances, narcotics lab raids, and vehicle checkpoint operations. At the beginning of each task, the commanders were given an order. From there they had to develop a plan, brief it, conduct rehearsals, and execute the mission.
Texas Army Guardsmen observed the entire event and then conducted after-action review with the Guatemalans offering feedback to help refine tactics and techniques for their future missions.
At the conclusion, a ceremony was held to recognize all the participants. Among the invitees were U.S. Army Col. Michael Knutson, U.S. Embassy to Guatemala Senior Defense Official, and National Army of Guatemala Brig. Gen. Antonio Lopez, Commander of the IATF. Lopez later thanked the Texas Army National Guardsmen for their participation in the event.
“We are happy to have trained with our friends from Texas and appreciate their professional work ethic and dedication,” Lopez said. “They are excellent soldiers.”