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Army North News Feed
NEWS | Oct. 21, 2022

U.S. and Mexico thrive together during exercise ‘Fuerzas Amigas 2022’

By Sgt. 1st Class Seth Barham U.S. Army North

 The U.S. military conducted the theater security cooperation exercise Fuerzas Amigas 2022 with the Mexican militaries on Oct. 16-21, 2022, at Campo Militar Reynosa in Reynosa, Mexico.

Fuerzas Amigas is an annual bilateral exercise focused on Defense Support of Civil Authorities and Mexico’s National Defense Plan – III. The exercise aims to foster and strengthen the existing military-to-military partnership between the U.S. and Mexican militaries while conducting disaster response operations along the U.S.-Mexico border.

“Fuerzas Amigas is critical to the U.S.-Mexico relationship because we must work well together during times of need for both countries,” said Lt. Col. Guillermo Rojas, FA 22 exercise director, U.S. Army North. “Natural disasters do not stop at borders, so we must both be ready to work together.”

This year’s exercise consisted of a field and command post exercise focused on a major hurricane scenario with landfall in the south Texas-Mexico border region. The notional disaster aimed at testing both nations’ collaborative response while minimizing casualties and enhancing mutual understanding of response operations on both sides of the border.

“This type of training must exist to provide a timely and proper response to the population to minimize or reduce the effects of the disasters,” said Mexican air force Capitán 2/o (Capt.) Amado Garcia Rangel, chief of natural disasters, Mexican national defense joint staff.

During the exercise, U.S. and Mexican armed forces conducted simulated chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear decontamination, urban search and rescue operations, and air and land medical evacuations, all while planning and executing together. The early reviews of the participants were glowingly positive.

“This exercise was different than any other bilateral exercise I’ve been a part of,” said U.S. Army Maj. Steven Wallace, a joint logistics officer for Joint Task Force Civil Support, who also served in the combined coordination cell for FA 22. “We were able to put partner militaries in a room instead of being isolated and operate in a way I’ve never seen.”

Although the U.S. and Mexico are different countries, their operations are similar.

“Our tools and equipment are pretty much the same, so to get a different perspective on how to utilize them was great for our Soldiers as well as their team,” said U.S. Army 1st Sgt. Shane Payne, first sergeant for 526th Engineer Construction Company, 92nd Engineer Battalion, 28th Engineer Brigade, from Fort Stewart, Ga.

Exercise FA 22 had nearly 300 U.S. military personnel participating from around the nation, with about 150 being in the exercise area of operations under the command and control of Joint Task Force Civil Support, operationally controlled by U.S. Army North, and more than 120 participants from the Mexican armed forces. This was the first in-person Fuerzas Amigas exercise since 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so there were a lot of fresh faces in the exercise.

“Being new to the unit and this (military occupational specialty), it was great to see all of the personalities of both countries’ Soldiers come to life; we’re so similar in a lot of ways,” said U.S. Army Sgt. Angelita Garcia, a CBRN specialist with the 44th Chemical Company, 22nd Chemical Battalion, 48th Chemical Brigade from Fort Bliss, Texas.

Mutual interests and discussions strengthen relationships between the U.S. and Mexican militaries and enhance a common understanding of shared challenges facing both militaries, which FA 22 provided, said Rojas.

“This exercise put the whole unified mission in perspective,” said Garcia. “I definitely want to do this again.”