Director General meets with Commander-General of the Colombian Military Forces

On 5 March 2019, BGen Stephen Lacroix, in company of Mrs. Isabel Niewola, Executive Director of the Inter-American Foundation (IADF), met with MGen Luis Navarro and MGen Ricardo Jiménez, Chief of the Joint Staff. BGen Lacroix expressed his great appreciation to the Colombian Armed Forces for providing IADB with outstanding staff officers and leaders and for their continuing support to the OAS/IADB’s Humanitarian Demining programs in Colombia.

In company of MGen Navarro, BGen Lacroix took this unique opportunity to present the IADB medal for Meritorious Services to three Battalion Commanders from the Colombian Humanitarian Demining Brigade: LTC Omar Ignacio Leal (No 60 – on photo), LTC Fabian Andres Aristizabal Zapata (No 2) and LTC Lothar Gelves Suarez (No 1) to recognize their outstanding contributions and support to the Inter-American Monitor Group (GMI) and Inter-American Technical Advisor Group (GATI).

In closing remarks, MGen Navarro reiterated that he will assign logistic and human resources dedicated to IADB’s First “Cyber Defense Conference: Western Hemisphere”, which will take place on 14-15 May 2019 in Bogota. Immediately after, the IADB delegation proceeded to the Joint Cyber Command (CCOC) and was greeted by its Commander, Capt (N) Javier Martinez. Capt (N) Martinez indicated interest in strengthening cyber education and information-sharing at hemispheric levels and commended the efforts of the IADB and IADF to this end. The CCOC was proud to be at the forefront of the region’s cyber efforts and looks forward co-hosting with the IADB this Cyber Defense Conference.

Later that day, DG IADB and Mrs. Niewola met with Dr. Victor Muñoz, the Presidential Adviser for Innovation and Digital Transformation. Dr. Muñoz agreed that a Hemispheric Cyber Defense Strategy could benefit the Americas. He also indicated that Colombia would be interested in playing a role in sharing its experiences to-date and would contribute to hemispheric efforts in this regard.

On 7 March, BGen Lacroix met with U.S. Col (Ret’d) Carlos Calderon of the Comprehensive Action against Antipersonnel Mines (AICMA), the Commander of GMI, Capt (N) Dalton Barros (BRA) and the Commander of GATI, Maj Aminthas Neto (BRA). They provided an update to their operations since DG IADB’s last visit in June 2018.

This key leader engagement and visit was an ideal opportunity for the IADB leadership to express its gratitude to the Colombian Military Force for their continuing support and commitment to the IADB and hemispheric security and for the leadership shown in the training of military personnel in Humanitarian Demining. It also proved to be a timely occasion to confirm and coordinate in situ the crucial planning details of the Cyber Defense Conference.