Colombia to Train Paraguayan Armed Forces and National Police
By Dialogo May 11, 2016
Colombia will provide advanced Military training to Paraguay's Armed Forces and National Police that will reinforce the countries' ties of cooperation on security and defense matters. The training will include courses that cover intelligence concerns; how to combat terrorism and transnational crime organizations; how to protect the environment; human rights; and international humanitarian law.
On April 11th, Paraguayan Defense Minister Diógenes Martínez met with the Colombian Ambassador to Paraguay, Adela María Maestre Cuello, at the Paraguayan Ministry of Defense. Ambassador Maestre Cuello delivered the Colombian government’s proposal to offer advanced Military training courses aimed at strengthening the operational and technical capacities of Paraguay's Armed Forces and National Police. Engineering Colonel Pedro Villaquirán, Colombia’s Military attaché, and Brigadier General Derlis Fernando Piris, director of Policy and Strategy at Paraguay's Ministry of Defense, also attended the meeting.
“We are studying the new offerings according to our needs," Brig. Gen. Piris told Diálogo
. "President Horacio Cartes' government is committed to modernizing our security forces, visualizing an operational focus comprising multipurpose units with projective capacity. This new agreement will increase the operational and response capabilities of Paraguay's security forces in fulfilling the missions aimed at countering new threats. In addition, it will build upon bi- and multilateral relationships with regard to security matters and foster confidence-building measures through various cooperative agreements among partner nations’ Militaries.”
History of cooperation
Colombia and Paraguay have a long history of cooperation on defense issues. The reciprocal collaboration dynamic has been enhanced since 2014, primarily among the countries’ Militaries.
“Threats don’t have a country. They don’t have borders,” Brig. Gen. Piris stated. “Everything is connected. The training programs with Colombia and other allied countries are key pieces in the Paraguayan government’s strategy to protect the environment and to counter terrorism and drug trafficking… Using Colombia’s experience [allows us to] reduce costs and the loss of human life.”
Brig. Gen. Piris pointed out that experienced Colombian officers trained approximately 200 Paraguayan officers and non-commissioned officers (NCOs) from 2014 until 2015.
In August, between 100 and 160 Paraguayan Military personnel will travel to Colombia to receive special training aimed at countering terrorism and drug trafficking, Colombian Ambassador Maestre said on May 6th, according to the website ABC
From May 16th-August 14th of last year, 77 NCOs were trained alongside their officer peers in counter-terrorism and combat strategies at the School of Professional Soldiers in the Colombian department of Cundinamarca. The course included tactics and techniques for patrols, ambushes, counter-ambushes, and other specializations. Another 80 military personnel traveled to the Andean nation between September and December 2015, according to ABC
In June 2014, 72 Paraguayan Soldiers began a 14-week course at the Training Center at Fort Tolemaida in Colombia, where they received advanced training in tactics and techniques to combat terrorist gangs, according to the website Defensa
. Upon concluding their training, the Paraguayan Military members joined the Joint Task Force (FTC) in the landlocked country’s northern zone
to combat the Paraguayan People’s Army and criminal organizations linked to drug trafficking and terrorism.
“The Paraguayan government's new focus on security and defense seeks to develop security continuously and comprehensively not only in Paraguay, but something that is truly based in regional cooperation,” Brig. Gen. Piris stated. “This approach is being relayed to Paraguay's civil population so they see and understand the Armed Forces' new role. We are here to help people and to protect the country from new threats.
“The exchange of information, the training, and [our] agreements are working against criminal actions, principally in the northern part of the country. They have also contributed to the reduction in the outbreaks [of terrorism]. These actions accompany comprehensive actions for the community in economic, preventative, nutritional, health, and personal spheres. We are making progress,” he added.
Colombia is willing to share the knowledge and experience it has gained from combating the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and other paramilitary groups and narcotrafficking organizations for more than 50 years.
“Every year, we send Troops to Colombia to be trained in guerrilla warfare, confrontations, and international humanitarian law," Brig. Gen. Piris explained. "The cooperative relationship between Colombia and Paraguay is excellent. We are very happy because, over the last few years, communication has become more fluid and we have grown."
Regional effort to fight crime
The increase of criminal organizations in South America has prompted Paraguay to strengthen its cooperation agreements with the Armed Forces of Argentina, Brazil, Peru, the United States, and Colombia, which shares its information with partner nations' Military and civilian personnel to improve a regional network of cooperation on security matters.
The U.S. Congress highlighted Paraguay's dedication to combating terrorism through the cutting of funding streams. “This commitment expressed by Cartes was made at a critical moment – a moment during which terrorist organizations are searching for any way possible for ways to locate funding and resources,” said U.S. Representative Robert Pittenger (R-NC), a member of the Committee on Financial Services from the U.S. House of Representatives, during his visit to Paraguay on April 6th. He was in Paraguay as part of his South American tour, according to the governmental news agency Agencia de Información Paraguaya
Colombian and Paraguayan authorities agreed to hold the 5th Meeting of the Binational Colombian-Paraguayan Committee for Cooperation against the Illegal Trafficking of Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances in the Colombian capital of Bogotá during the first week of July, according to Paraguay’s Ministry of Foreign Relations. “Paraguay is confident in its future," Brig. Gen. Piris stated. "It is time to strengthen our sense of brotherhood and Latin American-ness, and [this will be] better with Colombia and all countries. Paraguay is a brotherly country and an ally."