The navies of five partner nations took part in naval exercise Acrux X in the fluvial region of the Uruguayan department of Río Negro. The exercise was aimed at improving training levels in the face of terrorist and organized crime threats, protecting and preserving the environment, safeguarding aquatic life, and strengthening search and rescue and humanitarian assistance actions in response to natural disasters.
“The area where the exercise took place, due to its economic activity, is a source of resources for the world, where the common interests of several countries interact,” Captain Alejandro Chucarro, head of Public Relations of the Uruguayan Navy, told Diálogo on September 18. On this occasion, service members from Uruguay, Brazil, and Argentina took part, as well as observers from Paraguay and Bolivia.
More than 500 military personnel from the participating countries deployed on the Uruguay River, where ships, landing craft, and aircraft conducted various exercises August 21-25. Acrux, which has been held biennially since 2001, not only strengthens training but also increases mutual trust, coordination, and cooperation among participating countries.
“Common interests must be defended. As such, regional cooperation brings together these players in common preparation, to face risks, anticipating and seeking interoperability and common knowledge, to generate mutual trust,” Capt. Chucarro said. “Modern transnational threats and power groups challenge states through structures capable of destabilizing a region.”
Uruguayan Defense Minister Javier Garcia said in a statement that this military maneuver “calls upon training in the face of eventual threats. Threats that can be linked to terrorism, to insecurity on the border, but also to humanitarian evacuation.”
“In an increasing and exponential way, […] an immense part of the drugs that are transported to Europe and Africa from the South American South Cone by sea goes through the Paraná-Paraguay-Uruguay waterway,” Spanish news site Defensa reported. “[This] adds even more value to these exercises in terms of exchanges, prevention, and repression of narcotrafficking and related crimes.”
During Acrux X, service members spread out in work teams formed by the different units’ crews to carry out exchanges, organization, planning, and event development with the participation of land, water, and air forces.
“The navies are trained in the defense of regional economic interests through the planning and execution of maritime traffic control exercises in navigable river areas, which are essential for the foreign trade of the countries involved,” Capt. Chucarro said. “Acrux X links the Paraguay River, Parana River, Uruguay River, and Rio de la Plata, with the ocean.”
The Uruguayan Navy provided all logistics and services on land, as well as the tug ROU Maldonado, the coast guard vessel ROU Río Negro, a coastal patrol boat, and a Beechcraft T-34C-1 Turbo-Mentor aircraft, belonging to its Naval Aviation. The multipurpose ship ARA Ciudad de Zárate, the patrol boat ARA Río Santiago, and the Marine Infantry Battalion No. 3 participated on behalf of the Argentine Navy.
For its part, the Brazilian Navy had 192 troops, the ships Parnaíba and the river logistics support vessel Potengi, subordinated to the Mato Grosso Flotilla Command (ComFlotMT), an aircraft from the 1st Helicopter Squadron of General Employment West, and a detachment from the 3rd Riverside Operations Battalion.
The exercise culminated with a riverine assault demonstration. “The action involved the coordinated use of naval, naval air, and Marine infantry assets to attack and conquer an objective, called the Enemy’s Base of Operations,” Capt. Chucarro concluded.