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Public Statements

National Security Challenges

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

NATIONAL SECURITY CHALLENGES -- (Extensions of Remarks - January 22, 2008)


* Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Madam Speaker, the critical national security challenges the U.S. faces throughout the Western Hemisphere demand our support of strong allies, like Colombia, in the region. The historic ties between the U.S. and Colombia have only deepened in recent years as our cooperative efforts to surmount security, economic and social concerns have intensified.

* With this in mind, I would like to offer my warmest congratulations to Captain Hernando Wills on the occasion of his promotion to Rear Admiral of the Colombian National Navy.

* The following excerpts from Colombian Ambassador Carolina Barco's remarks highlight the significance that Rear Admiral Wills' promotion holds for the U.S.-Colombia relationship.

The relations between the United States and Colombia are not only their oldest in this continent, they also reflect a great understanding between our nations. Our relations encompass important historical events, such as the deployment in 1951 of the frigate Almirante Padilla and the Batallón Colombia to fight for democracy in Korea alongside U.S. Forces. Colombia was the only Latin American country to deploy troops in that multinational force, which cost the lives of 146 countrymen, with 69 missing and 448 wounded in combat. The participation of our soldiers in the peace keeping forces at the Suez Canal in 1956, the deployment of the Batallón Colombia since 1982 with the peace forces in the Sinai Peninsula, and innumerable episodes, give faith to the integration of our peoples under the flags of democracy and respect for human dignity.

I want to highlight this year as particularly fruitful for the joint work of the Navies of Colombia and the United States: their participation in important exercises such as UNITAS and PANAMAX, the first focused on standardizing procedures among the navies of the hemisphere and to maintain a level of training that will permit a joint defense of this continent, and the second with the purpose of organizing a defense of the Panama Canal.

Because of the nature of our peoples, military action goes beyond defense, successfully engaging in humanitarian endeavors, such as the deployment of the U.S. Navy's hospital ship Comfort to the Colombian coast providing medical attention to thousands of beneficiaries, and the joint participation of Colombia in the Joint Inter-Agency Task Force South in Key West, and the engagement of Colombian river operations' experts training U.S. Navy personnel for their future responsibilities in Afghanistan.

For all the aforementioned, the decision of the Colombian Government to promote Captain Hernando Wills to the rank of Rear Admiral is not an isolated event: it compliments the experiences of an inured sailor with the doctrine of National Defense University to defeat narco-terrorism, strengthen democracy, and return to Colombians the possibilities of development in peace, under the mandate of profound respect for human dignity clearly stated in the National Constitution.

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