Argentine Army Colonel Horacio Alonso, who has 36 years of military service, has been a Partner Nations Military Advisor (PNMA) at U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) since September 2019.
Col. Alonso spoke with Diálogo about the mission and his interagency work as a PNMA program representative. The program, which SOUTHCOM created in 1998, is traditionally known as the Partner Nations Liaison Officer (PNLO) program.
Diálogo: How important is it for Argentina to take part in the PNMA program?
Argentine Army Colonel Horacio Alonso, Partner Nations Military Advisor at SOUTHCOM: Argentina and the rest of the countries that make up the Americas are a regional bloc with shared common values, ideas, and threats, both from state and non-state actors that can damage our interests and affect our freedom. In this context, it is important for the countries in the region to create positive and intelligent partnerships that enable us to confront threats and strengthen ourselves in the face of regional and global challenges. The Argentine Armed Forces are committed to the values of democracy, sovereignty, human rights, the rule of law, and prosperity, which sustain our nation.
Argentina was one of the first countries to join the PNMA [program] in 1998. For us, it has been crucial to be in the program, as it helps us offer cooperation, professionalism, responsibility, and the ability to achieve a more stable and secure region together with partner countries.
Diálogo: What are your goals as Argentina’s representative at SOUTHCOM?
Col. Alonso: I seek greater interaction between the Armed Forces of my country and SOUTHCOM. We work proactively with combined regional plans, operations, exercises, and training, within SOUTHCOM’s area of operations. On the other hand, we coordinate military affairs between my country’s Armed Forces Joint Chiefs of Staff and Ministry of Defense and SOUTHCOM’s military branches and personnel. Another goal of mine is to establish an alternative liaison with partner nations and maintain an understanding and cooperation with their operations and activities.
Diálogo: What is your priority at the moment?
Col. Alonso: My priority is to fulfill the roles of advisor, facilitator, coordinator, and interlocutor to promote regional strengthening and integration, mutual trust, transparency, interoperability, skills development, training and education, experience exchange, and access to specific equipment.
Diálogo: How has the coronavirus pandemic affected Argentina, and how have the Armed Forces helped civilian authorities?
Col. Alonso: Throughout the country, even in the most remote areas, the Argentine Armed Forces stepped up in a year marked by the pandemic. The men and women in the Armed Forces were ready to serve through Operation General Manuel Belgrano, the largest military deployment since the Falklands War. One of the main characteristics of this operation is its logistics and interagency nature, with an extensive team that includes the participation of other ministries, such as Security, Social Action, and Health; municipalities; and social and nongovernmental organizations.
Diálogo: What lessons about cooperation do you expect to take home when you finish your mission at SOUTHCOM?
Col. Alonso: We have learned many lessons in this mission. I think one of the most important lessons is the ability to interoperate among the different armed forces of the countries in the PNMA [program], both in specific operations and in operations that reflect solidarity, such as humanitarian assistance operations.