HomeNewsArticle Display

Visiting Colombia, CSAF stresses importance of maintaining close ties to key Latin America ally

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein and Commander of the Colombian Air Force General Carlos Eduardo Bueno Vargas salute during the Memorial Heroes Caidos en Combate in Bogota, Colombia, Nov. 15, 2018. Goldfein's visit to the country and U.S. engagement in the region reflect the enduring promise of friendship, partnership and solidarity between the Americas. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech Sgt. Anthony Nelson Jr.)

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein and Commander of the Colombian Air Force General Carlos Eduardo Bueno Vargas salute during the Memorial Heroes Caidos en Combate in Bogota, Colombia, Nov. 15, 2018. Goldfein's visit to the country and U.S. engagement in the region reflect the enduring promise of friendship, partnership and solidarity between the Americas. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech Sgt. Anthony Nelson Jr.)

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein is welcomed to Bogota, Colombia, Nov. 14, 2018, by members of the U.S. and Colombian air forces. Regional partnerships like that of the U.S. and Colombia reflect an enduring promise of a cooperative, prosperous and secure hemisphere. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech Sgt. Anthony Nelson Jr.)

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein is welcomed to Bogota, Colombia, Nov. 14, 2018, by members of the U.S. and Colombian air forces. Regional partnerships like that of the U.S. and Colombia reflect an enduring promise of a cooperative, prosperous and secure hemisphere. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech Sgt. Anthony Nelson Jr.)

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein and Commander of the Colombian Air Force General Carlos Eduardo Bueno Vargas render salutes during a ceremony at the Memorial Heroes Caidos en Combate in Bogota, Colombia, Nov. 15, 2018. During the ceremony, which took place during his visit to the country Nov. 14-15, Goldfein laid a wreath to honor Colombian troops lost in battle. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech Sgt. Anthony Nelson Jr.)

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein and Commander of the Colombian Air Force General Carlos Eduardo Bueno Vargas render salutes during a ceremony at the Memorial Heroes Caidos en Combate in Bogota, Colombia, Nov. 15, 2018. During the ceremony, which took place during his visit to the country Nov. 14-15, Goldfein laid a wreath to honor Colombian troops lost in battle. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech Sgt. Anthony Nelson Jr.)

Commander of the Colombian Armed Forces General Alberto José Mejía expresses thanks and support to Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein during a meeting between Colombian and U.S. military leaders in Bogota, Colombia, Nov. 15, 2018. By working together with partner nations and regional leaders, the U.S. will achieve effective solutions to common challenges. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech Sgt. Anthony Nelson Jr.)

Commander of the Colombian Armed Forces General Alberto José Mejía expresses thanks and support to Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein during a meeting between Colombian and U.S. military leaders in Bogota, Colombia, Nov. 15, 2018. By working together with partner nations and regional leaders, the U.S. will achieve effective solutions to common challenges. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech Sgt. Anthony Nelson Jr.)

Commander of the Colombian Armed Forces General Alberto José Mejía expresses thanks and support to Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein during a meeting between Colombian and U.S. military leaders in Bogota, Colombia, Nov. 15, 2018. By working together with partner nations and regional leaders, the U.S. will achieve effective solutions to common challenges. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech Sgt. Anthony Nelson Jr.)

Commander of the Colombian Armed Forces General Alberto José Mejía expresses thanks and support to Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein during a meeting between Colombian and U.S. military leaders in Bogota, Colombia, Nov. 15, 2018. By working together with partner nations and regional leaders, the U.S. will achieve effective solutions to common challenges. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech Sgt. Anthony Nelson Jr.)

Commander of the Colombian Air Force General Carlos Eduardo Bueno Vargas briefs Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein on capabilities and common interests between the countries' air forces, in Bogota, Colombia, Nov. 15, 2018. Regional partnerships like that of the U.S. and Colombia reflect an enduring promise of a cooperative, prosperous and secure hemisphere. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech Sgt. Anthony Nelson Jr.)

Commander of the Colombian Air Force General Carlos Eduardo Bueno Vargas briefs Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein on capabilities and common interests between the countries' air forces, in Bogota, Colombia, Nov. 15, 2018. Regional partnerships like that of the U.S. and Colombia reflect an enduring promise of a cooperative, prosperous and secure hemisphere. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech Sgt. Anthony Nelson Jr.)

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein addresses Colombian Air Force War College students at the Canton Norte in Bogota, Colombia, Nov. 15, 2018. Goldfein's visit to the country and U.S. engagement in the region reflect the enduring promise of friendship, partnership and solidarity within the Americas. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech Sgt. Anthony Nelson Jr.)

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein addresses Colombian Air Force War College students at the Canton Norte in Bogota, Colombia, Nov. 15, 2018. Goldfein's visit to the country and U.S. engagement in the region reflect the enduring promise of friendship, partnership and solidarity within the Americas. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech Sgt. Anthony Nelson Jr.)

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein and Commander of the Colombian Air Force General Carlos Eduardo Bueno Vargas pose for a photo in Bogota, Colombia, Nov. 15, 2018. In 1822, the United States became one of the first countries to recognize the republic of Colombia and to establish a resident diplomatic mission in the country. Goldfein's visit to the country and U.S. engagement in the region reflect the enduring promise of friendship, partnership and solidarity between the Americas. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech Sgt. Anthony Nelson Jr.)

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein and Commander of the Colombian Air Force General Carlos Eduardo Bueno Vargas pose for a photo in Bogota, Colombia, Nov. 15, 2018. In 1822, the United States became one of the first countries to recognize the republic of Colombia and to establish a resident diplomatic mission in the country. Goldfein's visit to the country and U.S. engagement in the region reflect the enduring promise of friendship, partnership and solidarity between the Americas. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech Sgt. Anthony Nelson Jr.)

BOGOTA, Columbia (AFNS) -- Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein concluded a two-day visit to Colombia on Thursday, reinforcing bonds with one of the United States’ closest allies in Latin America and pledging to accelerate joint training activities with an air force he called the “gold standard” in the region.

The visit was Goldfein’s first as the Air Force’s highest-ranking officer to a country that has worked closely with the United States on an assortment of regional and security concerns for decades. At the same time, Goldfein’s visit took place amid heightened regional concerns that underscored the importance of maintaining the longstanding ties the countries share.

“Colombia is the gold standard when it comes to securing a country and forging a positive way forward,” Goldfein said during an address to a collection of senior leaders, junior officers and non-commissioned officers, noting that the Colombian Air Force participated in the last U.S. Air Force Red Flag exercise.

As he did throughout the two-day visit in Bogata, Goldfein praised the Colombian military – and specifically its air force – for its high performance and partnership.

“As our national defense strategy states, we cannot win without coalition partners. … Colombia has been, and will continue to be, a capable and willing partner of the United States,” Goldfein said.

In addition to policy discussions that ranged from strategies for Colombia’s ongoing actions to defeat narco-terrorism, security implications triggered by political turmoil in neighboring Venezuela and Colombia’s potential for training pilots from other countries in light attack, there was pomp and ceremonies that captured the two countries’ relationship.

In a ceremony at the Memorial Heroes Caidos en Combate, or Fallen Heroes Memorial, Goldfein laid a wreath to honor Colombian troops lost in battle.

Later in the day during a gathering of senior leaders from both air forces, Colombia’s highest-ranking air force officer, Gen. Carlos Eduardo Bueno, told Goldfein, “The United States and the United States Air Force will always be considered our principle strategic ally.”

Before departing for Washington, Goldfein also bestowed the Legion of Merit to Bueno. In presenting the award, which is one the highest honors the military confers, Goldfein said it reflected Bueno’s leadership in transforming the air force into “an island of excellence.”

“The benchmark for the Colombian Air Force at all times is the United States Air Force; the United States Air Force, for us, is the reference,” Bueno said in an interview Thursday. “We have been studying with the United States Air Force, training with the United States Air Force and to have the presence of the Chief of Staff of the Air Force for the first time in history for an official visit … is very important.”

While only two full days, Goldfein’s visit was a whirlwind of public events as well as private discussions with Colombia’s military leadership. It included an hour-long session with Gen. Alberto Mejia who is the Colombia’s parallel to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Like Bueno, Mejia highlighted a strong and productive history of cooperation between the two nations.

“You are part of everything we do and we are proud of that,” Mejia told Goldfein. “That kind of partnership is making an incredible difference.”

He thanked Goldfein and the United States for working closely on both establishing and executing interoperability. Demonstrating that capacity is important now that Colombia has been designated a NATO global partner. Mejia also thanked Goldfein for Colombia’s participation in the last Red Flag exercise.

But Mejia also noted a collection of difficult issues that could test the relationship. Among the challenges are the continuing threat to Colombia’s stability from nacro-trafficking as well as ongoing problems in Venezuela that have triggered a flow of refugees to Colombia.

Goldfein’s trip was the most recent example of senior U.S. officials visiting Colombia this year. In addition to Mattis, U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley as well as Admiral Kurt Tidd, head of U.S. Southern Command, visited the country. Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson also came to Colombia when he served.

For the United States, the interest is both strategic and longstanding.

In 1822, for example, the United States became one of the first countries to recognize the republic of Colombia and to establish a resident diplomatic mission in the country.

More recently, Mack McLarty, who served as chief of staff for former President Bill Clinton, and John Negroponte, who served in a variety of security and diplomatic positions for former President George W. Bush including U.N. ambassador, wrote in an op-ed for the Miami Herald about U.S. relations with Colombia.

“As we address an ongoing political and humanitarian crisis in Venezuela, Colombia represents a stable, democratic neighbor to the west,” they wrote.

Engage

Facebook Twitter
Nearly 10,000 participants from around the world took part in the 2019 Military World Games in Wuhan, China. And… https://t.co/CRYacyFtEJ
Ever heard of the rule of 0-0-1-3? No. Well it means to have zero alcohol if you're underage, zero drinks if you're… https://t.co/7bNRnhYuWS
RT @HQ_AFMC: #Readiness was on display by our @AFResearchLab teams during a live-virtual-constructive training simulation, enabling #Airmen
RT @AFWERX: We can't wait for 2020: The @USAirForce Advanced Manufacturing Olympics is slated for July 8-9 in Salt Lake City & will bring t…
RT @AirNatlGuard: “The Silver Flag training sites provide our Airmen with real-world scenarios to reinforce our Air Force Specialty Code sk…
RT @US_TRANSCOM: Watch a @usairforce KC-10A refuel, and be refueled during same mission in support of @CJTFOIR. #Togetherwdeliver #NKAWTG #…
RT @AETCommand: Transforming the way we learn with technology is one of our key priorities here in the First Command! Check out the photos…
RT @AirNatlGuard: This week, @ChiefNGB visited the @PRNationalGuard at Muñiz Air National Guard Base to meet with senior leaders and discus…
RT @GenDaveGoldfein: YOU are the most important reason for our mission success. Take care of each other & preserve the connections & commun…
RT @AirmanMagazine: When it comes to acquisitions, the @usairforce has the need for speed. Equipping Airmen with the best technology start…
RT @GenDaveGoldfein: A distinct privilege to help unveil the F-117 exhibit, establishing this remarkable aircraft in its rightful place in…
RT @AirNatlGuard: “For me personally, the CAP and Air Guard go hand in hand. When I look back at any state active duty or state support we…
RT @GenDaveGoldfein: Honored to participate on a panel with my fellow Service Chiefs at the @ReaganInstitute. May our leaders of today & th…
It was just a childhood dream but it crescendoed into this #Airman becoming the only woman in the #AirForce to both… https://t.co/vzGjPe7Vri
RT @USAFReserve: Loadmaster first Reservist to complete USAF Weapons School Advanced Instructor Course (Story by the @403rdWing) #ReserveRe
.@secafoffical will speak about America’s footprint in space going forward at 5:45 EST. Watch live at https://t.co/aSlw5ceGJj
RT @DeptofDefense: LIVE: @EsperDoD delivers keynote remarks at the Reagan National Defense Forum. #RNDF https://t.co/ZXhuaTOQTm
Today, we help Col. Charles McGee, a Tuskegee Airman, combat veteran and American legend, celebrate 💯 sorties aroun… https://t.co/bcmcDr4IYW
December 7, 1941. #PearlHarbor and six other #military bases on the Hawaiian island of Oahu were attacked, beginnin… https://t.co/4GvB8yPpGV