Two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, the Chilean Armed Forces are resuming face-to-face interactions with their U.S. counterparts with various training and cooperation initiatives.
Among those, members of the Chilean Marine Corps (CIM) and U.S. Marine Corps Forces South (MARFORSOUTH) met in Chile to exchange doctrines and experiences in amphibious operations.
“The [U.S. troops] wanted to understand how we use our capabilities, to put into effect their Force Design 2030 strategy,” Captain Carlos Zañartu, second commander of the CIM Logistics Battalion, told Diálogo on July 20. “The United States is interested in learning how marine infantries lighter than them, such as ours, operate.”
The late June meeting was held at Fort Aguayo in Valparaiso, Chile, where troops reviewed organization, crisis response, equipment, force deployment from ship to shore, and command and control, among other topics.
Marines of both countries have a close relationship. In fact, MARFORSOUTH referred to it as an “everlasting” partnership in a late April tweet. In 2022, CIM will conduct two more encounters with MARFORSOUTH, including cold weather training and fire coordination, both will be carried out in August, in Chile.
“These encounters are aimed at maintaining regional stability and security, and strengthening cooperation, exchange, and training of naval and amphibious forces,” Lieutenant Commander Patricio Arriagada, CIM International Relations coordinator, told Diálogo.
“The Chilean Navy’s Marine Corps is united to [MARFORSOUTH]. We’ve been sending our people to train in the United States since the 1960s, and since then we’ve had an extremely close relationship, not only in war operations, but also in disaster and humanitarian relief operations,” Lt. Cmdr. Arriagada said.
On March 23, 2020, the U.S. Marine Corps announced a force design initiative planned to occur over the next 10 years, referred to as Force Design 2030. This initiative aims to redesign the force for expeditionary naval warfare, and to better align itself with the National Defense Strategy; focusing in particular on strategically competing with China and Russia.
Training in systems and procedures
In another activity, members of the Chilean Army Aviation Brigade (BAVE) traveled to the United States to train in systems and procedures for the MD-530F helicopter, one of the BAVE’s most used aircraft for reconnaissance and humanitarian aid.
“All aircraft are constantly updated. We must know how the factory adjusts procedures with the MD-530F in different countries worldwide; which are obsolete, and which are gaining relevance,” Captain Felipe Trincado, BAVE flight instructor and MD-530F maintenance pilot, told Diálogo on July 18. “These visits allow us to revalidate our techniques and procedures through contact with the factory beyond the manuals, with a live overview […].”
“The training allowed us to update maintenance techniques and procedures, in addition to learning how the aircraft behaves in arctic or jungle conditions, since we do not experience these types of situations on our normal flights,” Capt. Trincado said on the Chilean Army website. The training took place April 30-June 22 in Mesa, Arizona.
The MD-530F is a single engine, five-blade, multi-purpose helicopter for four passengers and a pilot. “It’s an agile, low operating and maintenance cost aircraft. It is very rugged, withstands heavy beating in very demanding operational environments and in very confined areas,” Capt. Trincado said.
“This helicopter is used to train our youngest pilots. That’s why it’s essential that no detail is overlooked in terms of maintenance, because that can mean disaster,” Corporal Alexis Briones, in charge of Communications at BAVE, added. “For the mechanics, it’s important to see, feel, and touch the parts, rather than have them described to you. We made operational advances with the aircraft thanks to this training, because it was in situ,” Capt. Trincado concluded.