Minnesota National Guard sending team to Colombia for drug countering mission

A Minnesota National Guard team is heading to South America to support a transnational drug countering mission.

Thursday afternoon, the National Guard held a ceremony to send off a six-member team to Bogota, Colombia.

Officials say the team will be in Colombia in support of the U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) Combat Transnational Organized Crime Counter Drug Mission for the next nine months.

“This enduring mission is an ongoing cooperative effort between the United States, Colombia, and other South American countries,” said Chief Warrant Officer Five Brad Husnik, Detachment Commander. “This high-visibility mission provides multiple opportunities for the members of the detachment to showcase the skills and experience of the Minnesota National Guard in master-level, expeditionary travel during extreme environments, including high altitudes.”

As part of their mission, the team will conduct flight operations, transporting passengers and cargo within the SOUTHCOM area, the National Guard says.

Members of the team have to be able to speak and write fluently in Spanish, officials say, and one member of the Minnesota National Guard team — Army Staff Sgt. Abigail Rivera — was hand-chosen because she was born in Peru and lived there until she was 12. She’s been with the National Guard since 2012.