Colombia Trains Partner Nations in Advanced Combat
By Julieta Pelcastre/Diálogo August 02, 2016Colombian Army officers trained 18 members of three partner nation armies in irregular combat, survival, intelligence, and human rights during the First International Advanced Combat Course (ACC) in Colombia. The training will help students increase their operational capabilities during security missions. A total of 114 cadets from Colombia and 18 from other Latin American countries –including 16 from the Dominican Republic, one from Peru, and one from Panama – participated in the first ACC. The training took place from March 21st through June 14th at the José María Córdova Military Cadet School (ESMIC, for its Spanish acronym) at the Tolemaida Military Base. The ACC consisted of "training and education, encouraging responsible leadership among [the students] in decision-making when undertaking small-unit combat operations, as well as teamwork in the realm of national security and defense," Colonel Faustino Almonte, director of Plans, Operations and Training for the Dominican Army, told Diálogo. "The goal of the instruction is to increase capabilities in both regular and irregular tactical combat operations." After eight weeks of intensive training, a closing ceremony featured the attendance of Dominican and Colombian Army authorities. The Colombian Army has entrusted the ESMIC with the responsibility of training and developing its members to take on distinct war-time or peace-time scenarios, with the goal of sharing the institution's strengths with the world. The ACC is a mandatory prerequisite to advance to the rank of Second Lieutenant. At the end of the training, students who came in first in the overall rankings in each area received commendations such as the Fighting Spirit Award. Colombian Second Lieutenant Yina Paola Montenegro Villanueva was distinguished as the only woman to participate in the course. Maj. Gen. Matos said that "this is the first time Dominican Army members and cadets are being trained by another Latin American country, and it is also the first time since 1844 that they are being trained at a sister military academy. Today, in an unprecedented event, the first class of cadets – a class that had the privilege of receiving instruction in the ACC – is graduating from the Batalla de las Carreras Military Academy," according to a May 21st ESMIC press release. Experienced Colombian officers taught participants the best irregular combat techniques including: signaling military ground targets, air assault, command station, lessons learned, urban combat, irregular combat maneuvers, communications, water combat survival, military geography, intelligence, health, and mines and explosive devices. At the same time, students participated in workshops on human rights and on the use of satellite navigation Global Positions Systems (GPS). The teamwork of Colombia’s different military units became evident during the ACC's physical training exercises. The Air Force, Special Forces, School of Human Rights, Marine Corps, Ranger School, and School of Noncommissioned Officers lent their support to the joint exercises and shared knowledge with the students according to each partof the program. "This exchange was requested by the Commander General of the Domincan Army, Major General José Eugenio Matos de la Cruz,” Col. Almonte said. The exchange was a result of agreements reached at the Conference of American Armies, which took place in Bogotá in November 2015. "We are very thankful and we know it will be of great benefit for our Officers and Cadets," Col. Almonte added. The cadets and the second lieutenant, all between the ages of 20 and 24, were selected after undergoing rigorous trust and ability tests. "This importance of this interesting Advanced Combat Course is the enrichment of tactical knowledge in a doctrine that is different than ours, specifically, the professionalism that the Colombian National Army has acquired from its experience and rigorous training," said Col. Almonte. "The cadets will share their experience with their compatriots." The cooperative relationship between the armies of the two countries is one of permanent solidarity. "We bind our armies eternally; we aspire to create a connection that lasts forever and is a model of brotherhood and permanent solidarity," said Maj. Gen. Matos during the graduation ceremony. "Two military institutions created paths of friendship and mutual cooperation, paths of solid and unbreakable bonds." Daniel Pou, an associate researcher at the Latin American Social Sciences Institute in the Dominican Republic, said, "It is a good thing that Dominican cadets are beginning to learn experiences that are different than the traditional ones they have always had. We hope that this training is more consistent with the holistic view of the focus of what we call defense."