FORT BENNING, GA (WTVM) - The Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation celebrated 14 years of service with an event in the Institute's Auditorium Thursday, Jan. 15.
Retired Colonel Richard D. Downie, the Institute's first commandant from 2001-2004, addressed the full-house group, recounting the early years and even explaining how the term WHINSEC came to be.
Downie said a couple of employees suggested he change the first acronym, WHISC, because it sounded like a laundry detergent. Adding in his name, Downie, another laundry product, was just too much.
Several local military and civilian leaders attended, as did two of the previous commandants, retired Colonel Glenn R. Huber, Jr. and retired Colonel Felix Santiago.
Following the speech, the commandant Col. Keith Anthony was joined by the Assistant Commandant Col. Gustavo Nuñez Kocher, Command Sgt Maj Carlos Olvera, senior Partner-Nation instructor Col. Walter Navarro, and the youngest U.S. employee 1st Lt. Sophia Navedo in cutting the ceremonial cake.
The Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC), located at Fort Benning, Ga., was established by Federal law (Title 10, U.S. Code, Section 2166), and opened in January 2001 to provide professional education and training to military, civilian, and law enforcement personnel from eligible nations of the Western Hemisphere.
Now in its fourteenth year of operation with the U.S. Army as Executive Agent, the Institute provides the nations of the Western Hemisphere the opportunity to enhance the professional level of their national military, uniformed police, and civilian security workforce and to provide them with tools for successfully confronting regional security challenges.
Establishing professional and personal relationships within and among participating nations and encouraging cooperation at all levels are equally crucial components of the WHINSEC mission.
WHINSEC men and women have trained and educated more than 19,000 students — military, law enforcement and civilian — representing 36 countries.
WHINSEC enhances the professional capabilities of security forces and ministries of our home, the Americas, with a vision of strong joint, interagency, intergovernmental, and multinational collaboration leading to more effective partnerships.