Diálogo Interview With Lt. Gen. Adalberto Ramon Garcete of Paraguay
By Dialogo June 06, 2011
In April, Lt. Gen. Adalberto Ramon Garcete, Chief of the Paraguayan Joint General Staff, met with Gen. Douglas Fraser, Commander of the U.S. Southern Command, to talk about regional security affairs.
During his visit, Diálogo took the opportunity to speak with General Garcete about various topics, including Paraguay’s role in peace-keeping operations and the modernization of its Armed Forces.
Diálogo: What are the chief security threats that Paraguay is facing today, and what measures are the Armed Forces taking to combat them?
General Garcete: The threat perspective is viewed from different angles by each country; it may be that terrorism is the top threat for the United States or England or France, and that same threat is second or third or last in Paraguay. Now, with regard to traditional threats, the Southern Cone is undoubtedly one of the most peaceful regions in the twenty-first century, since in practice, we no longer perceive any threat of a military confrontation between countries. This is backed by measures of mutual trust.
With regard to new threats, non-traditional ones, Paraguay sees corruption, poverty, illicit arms trafficking, and drug trafficking as priorities. As a consequence of such threats, Paraguay may face terrorism, which is not latent today, but which could break out. All these non-traditional threats are transnational, that is, they affect all countries to the same extent, but as I repeat, the priorities in confronting traditional and non-traditional threats depend on each country. Along those lines, for Paraguay and from my point of view, poverty and corruption are among the chief threats.
The measures that we are taking in the Armed Forces to combat them are to increase our capabilities and to create a “Directorate of Other Military Operations,” which will enable us to monitor or anticipate events that may affect our security.
Diálogo: What measures is the Paraguayan government taking to increase the capabilities of its Armed Forces?
General Garcete: This year, after a long time, our Armed Forces have received a considerable budget increase, with the help of political actors and all our compatriots who are committed to the country’s wellbeing, aware that development cannot be achieved without security, and that, as a consequence, it will not be possible to achieve the state’s supreme purpose: the common good.
With the current budget, we are building up our human resources, a vital element of the force, ensuring that their condition improves in all aspects.
In the context of the budget, we are also in the process of acquiring new armaments, equipment, and modern military vehicles for use in any operational environment, for the purpose of achieving the true transformation of our Armed Forces.
Likewise, and with regard to infrastructure, we are operationalizing work in our organization to improve our installations for all our units, starting with those that have the greatest needs. Another measure to increase our capability is related to the deployment of a multi-role engineering company in Haiti, in addition to having personnel carrying out peace-keeping operations in Cyprus, Ivory Coast, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan, and Western Sahara for several years now, a way in which we are collaborating on international security.
Diálogo: What have been the peace-keeping successes of the Armed Forces that they can share with other nations?
General Garcete: A major success of our Armed Forces is having operational experience among our personnel in interacting with professionals from other armed forces with modern technology, in a multi-personnel, multi-cultural environment. All this facilitates the fact that Paraguay today has personnel who are highly trained to successfully confront any situation together with other countries, for the purpose of providing security at both the national and global levels.
I AGREE with General Garcete that the biggest problems are poverty and corruption. I am happy to see that there is a new mind set among the army, away from the old idea that all bad things came from communism. New realities, new problems, and fortunately, newer and more modern visions from South American armies. This update of concepts and philosophy is more than welcome.