first published on September 11, 2018 by Josh
The Guatemalan Minister of Defense couldn’t wait to show us video of the bravery and dedication of his men.
Just 48 hours before, a tiny Guatemalan fast attack boat had chased down a Colombian cartel submarine, pursuing it 200 miles offshore and then running themselves beyond their return fuel range. They nailed the massive, cocaine-heavy sub, then waited 12 hours on the high seas for a refuel.
Jeff Kirkham (29 year Green Beret,) Josh Tyler (pro MMA fighter) and yours truly, visited Guatemala for the second time this year, offering free Special Forces-level training as service to a country that fights out of its weight class protecting the United States against drug cartels and terrorism. With scant budget but tremendous desire to serve, Guatemala earns all the help we can throw their way.
Deeply appreciative of Jeff and Josh’s professionalism and attention, the Guatemalan government rolled out the red carpet with the Minister of Defense, Director of the Secret Service, and Commandant of the Guatemalan Special Forces each taking personal time with the professional trainers to thank them and to ply them with no small amount of Guatemalan rum.
During this latest tour of duty, Jeff and Josh taught hostage escape, hand-to-hand firearm disarmament and proper use of the RATS tourniquet to both the “Kaibiles” (Guatemalan Special Forces) and the SAAS (Guatemalan Secret Service.)
Deep in the Peten Jungle, the Kaibiles train for severe jungle survival during a brutal selection process that could easily be compared to the U.S. Navy SEALs. Hand-picked from the Guatemalan Army, the Kaibiles form the backbone of the anti-drug campaign on the northern border with Mexico. Jeff and Josh found it addicting to train the elite forces of Guatemala; for every ounce of expertise and training, the Guatemalans returned a pound of gratitude and hospitality. Pro Tip: don’t take a dump in the rivers unless you want to gnarly worm to swim up your poop chute.
Other than the scary butt-worms, Guatemala proves remarkably safe, democratic and welcoming to vacationers. American’s often mistakenly think of Guatemala as being involved in civil war, which hasn’t been the case since 1996. Since then, Guatemala has executed a remarkable campaign against corruption, making it now one of the most secure destinations in Central America, certainly far safer than southern Mexico.
Between training sessions, the ReadyMan crew visited several pristine locales including the colonial village of Antigua, Cayala in Guatemala City and the Tikalik Mayan ruins in Retalhuleu. Guatemala is deemed “Alert Level 2” which is the same level of safety found in Great Britain and France. The cartels conduct virtually no activities away from the borders of Guatemala and gangs in the main city can easily be avoided by traveling like one would travel in a large American city, i.e. not wandering around like a lost tourist. Misconceptions in the U.S. about travel to Guatemala play to the wise travelers benefit, since literally nothing is crowded or over-touristed in Guatemala.
Bottom line: you will never meet a kinder, warmer Christian nation. Guatemala shamelessly embraces their Catholic and Protestant faith and every interaction belies their deep practice of mutual respect and service.
Whether it’s training their elite forces, or spending your tourism dollars in their primo, adventure destinations, Guatemala should be at the top of our list: as good friends, good neighbors and outstanding military allies.