Story by: 2nd Lt. Hudson
GEORGETOWN COUNTY, S.C. – As Soldiers from the South Carolina Army National Guard’s 125th Multi-Role Bridge Company from Abbeville, South Carolina. ferried a vehicle across the Sampit River, they were joined by curious onlookers. None more important than members of the Colombian military who are on hand this week to watch Vigilant Guard unfold.
The South Carolina National Guard’s State Partnership Program, Colombia, sent a delegation to see how the National Guard interacts with civilian emergency management agencies and performs its Domestic Operations mission after a natural disaster. Vigilant Guard is running from March 3-12.
Vigilant Guard is a series of federally funded disaster-response drills conducted by National Guard units working with federal, state and local emergency management agencies and first responders. This year’s scenario is a Category 4 storm that strikes the South Carolina coast.
Colombian Army Lt. Col. Christian Calderon, an engineer was on site, said the bridging and ferrying operation done by the 125th MRBC was, “an excellent capability to be able to restore mobility and communication in such a short time.”
The Colombian military is currently using a floating bridge that the South Carolina engineers are scheduled to receive in three years.
“It is an opportunity to use military capacity meant for war in a capacity to aid civilian authorities,” Calderon said of the ferrying operations.
During their tour, the Colombians are visiting the Joint Operations Center in West Columbia, airfield operations and the Air National Guard’s 245th Air Traffic Control Squadron at the Georgetown Airport before heading to Clarks Hill Training Center to watch dry span bridging, said Lt. Col. Dave King, South Carolina National Guard SPP Director.
Since its launch in 2012, when the South Carolina National Guard introduced its State Partnership Program (SPP) with the Republic of Colombia. South Carolina has focused on establishing long-term relationships where Colombia and South Carolina can promote mutual interests and build lasting capabilities.
In February, Colombian Air Force officers visited the South Carolina Air National Guard’s McEntire Joint National Guard Base for three days to exchange information on maintenance and flight operations with the 169th Fighter Wing.
The relationship between the S.C. National Guard and the Colombian military has enhanced the Guard’s ability to stay ready, relevant, resilient and responsible on the global stage.