El Salvador Deploys Air Force Contingent To UN Peacekeeping Mission

El Salvador Deploys Air Force Contingent To UN Peacekeeping Mission

By Dialogo
March 23, 2015




About 90 Salvadoran Air Force members are preparing to deploy to Mali to serve in the country's first Air Force contingent to participate in the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).

There, they'll provide security to both UN Forces and civilians; among other tasks, Salvadoran pilots will conduct reconnaissance missions using three MD500 helicopters from their Air Force fleet.

Most of the UN peacekeepers -- Military and police contingents, as well as civilians -- are working in northern Mali. In order to prepare the contingent's primary quarters, an initial group of officers is scheduled to arrive on March 23; the rest will arrive between April 15 and 25. They'll be based in Timbuktu, near the desert, under the command of Colonel Juan Aníbal Hernández Lara.

Residents of the northwest African nation are anxious to greet the first group of officers. “Relations in Mali are very close. Mali was warm in welcoming our contingent to help in the peacekeeping mission,” said Colonel Juan Ricardo Palacios Garay, chief of the General Staff of the Salvadoran Contingent in Mali. “We hope to be up to their standards, and we will do our utmost to complete this mission.”

That mission, Col. Palacios Garay said, "will last one year. But El Salvador is prepared to stay in Mali for five years, depending on the UN mandate."

Training for the UN mission


To prepare for the mission, Salvadoran officers received five months of peacekeeping training - including a visit from members of the United States Military, which traveled to El Salvador to share their experiences working on the peacekeeping mission.

“The instruction was focused on how work is done in the desert and a survival course for crew members in case of accidents,” said Col. Palacios Garay. “The maintenance specialists concentrated on what preventive care the aircraft will need because of the sand, desert elements and the temperature.”

Additionally, in early December 2014, the United States Southern Command’s (SOUTHCOM) Command Surgeon's Office joined the Defense Institute for Medical Operations (DIMO) to provide the Salvadoran Military with a pre-deployment course on Ebola precautions, recognition, and response in an effort to support their peacekeeping operations (PKO) forces preparing to replace their counterparts in Mali.

“This is a very special situation because, for the first time, a Salvadoran Military contingent is going to work independently (without the assistance of other countries) in support of a UN Peacekeeping Mission,” Salvadoran Defense Minister Major General David Munguía Payés said on February 11 at the United Nations headquarters in New York.

MINUSMA peacekeepers were deployed in 2013


The UN's mission was established on April 25, 2013, and deployed a few months later, on July 1, with the goal of stabilizing the situation in the northern region of the country, which is the scene of conflict between the government and and armed guerrilla groups. MINUSMA currently has about 9,900 Troops.

El Salvador took steps toward joining that peacekeeping effort on January 8, when the Legislative Assembly approved the deployment of Troops to participate in the UN PKO mission. The countries of El Salvador and Mali established diplomatic relations on September 23, 2014, at UN headquarters.

The country's contingent joins other peacekeeping groups which are deployed to what is called the Azawad Strip, where isolated jihadist groups, in addition to Tuareg rebel groups, frequently attack the Malian Army, MINUSMA, or rival groups .


While it is not expected to engage in armed conflict, the Salvadoran contingent is prepared for it. “This is not a combat mission, but there could be incidents there in which our forces must use their weapons,” Munguía Payés said during a speech ahead of the deployment of the country's 10th military group to the peace keeping mission in Lebanon, according to Contacto Hoy
.

“Every Air Force mission is a risky mission,” Col. Palacios Garay said, but added that “the situation in Mali is progressing as expected. They informed us that there had been a decrease in the level of hostilities because of the negotiations that the UN is conducting with the insurgents.”

In addition to the Mali assignment, Salvadoran Troops are also donning blue helmets in UN peacekeeping missions in Haiti and Lebanon.

Mission will bring positive attention to Salvadoran Military


Participating in the UN mission in Mali will improve the experience and prominence of the Salvadoran Armed Forces, which is well known for its involvement in UN peace keeping operations.

In an interview with Diálogo
in December 2014, General Rafael Melara, Chief of the Joint Staff of the Salvadoran Armed Forces, explained that the country's military is not only bound by Constitutional mandates to defend the nation and its territorial integrity, but also to cooperate with international peace efforts.

"We have done so as part of our foreign policy and also in gratitude for the peacekeeping efforts that occurred in El Salvador, which ended in 1992. Now, we cooperate with international peace efforts. So much so that we have participated in missions in Iraq, we have sent contingents for three-and-a-half years to Afghanistan, we now have a contingent in Lebanon – where we have had a presence for six years – and we have been in Haiti for two years, working on the reconstruction efforts in that country," he said.

In addition to solidifying El Salvador's relationships with other countries, participating in peace missions also makes pilots and mechanics more effective, and helps optimize their training.“This peacekeeping mission will obviously raise the prestige of the Salvadoran Army’s Air Units,” said Pedro Trujillo, director of the Institute of Political Studies and International Relations at Francisco Marroquín University in Guatemala. Providing such assistance "opens up a lot of doors."





About 90 Salvadoran Air Force members are preparing to deploy to Mali to serve in the country's first Air Force contingent to participate in the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).

There, they'll provide security to both UN Forces and civilians; among other tasks, Salvadoran pilots will conduct reconnaissance missions using three MD500 helicopters from their Air Force fleet.

Most of the UN peacekeepers -- Military and police contingents, as well as civilians -- are working in northern Mali. In order to prepare the contingent's primary quarters, an initial group of officers is scheduled to arrive on March 23; the rest will arrive between April 15 and 25. They'll be based in Timbuktu, near the desert, under the command of Colonel Juan Aníbal Hernández Lara.

Residents of the northwest African nation are anxious to greet the first group of officers. “Relations in Mali are very close. Mali was warm in welcoming our contingent to help in the peacekeeping mission,” said Colonel Juan Ricardo Palacios Garay, chief of the General Staff of the Salvadoran Contingent in Mali. “We hope to be up to their standards, and we will do our utmost to complete this mission.”

That mission, Col. Palacios Garay said, "will last one year. But El Salvador is prepared to stay in Mali for five years, depending on the UN mandate."

Training for the UN mission


To prepare for the mission, Salvadoran officers received five months of peacekeeping training - including a visit from members of the United States Military, which traveled to El Salvador to share their experiences working on the peacekeeping mission.

“The instruction was focused on how work is done in the desert and a survival course for crew members in case of accidents,” said Col. Palacios Garay. “The maintenance specialists concentrated on what preventive care the aircraft will need because of the sand, desert elements and the temperature.”

Additionally, in early December 2014, the United States Southern Command’s (SOUTHCOM) Command Surgeon's Office joined the Defense Institute for Medical Operations (DIMO) to provide the Salvadoran Military with a pre-deployment course on Ebola precautions, recognition, and response in an effort to support their peacekeeping operations (PKO) forces preparing to replace their counterparts in Mali.

“This is a very special situation because, for the first time, a Salvadoran Military contingent is going to work independently (without the assistance of other countries) in support of a UN Peacekeeping Mission,” Salvadoran Defense Minister Major General David Munguía Payés said on February 11 at the United Nations headquarters in New York.

MINUSMA peacekeepers were deployed in 2013


The UN's mission was established on April 25, 2013, and deployed a few months later, on July 1, with the goal of stabilizing the situation in the northern region of the country, which is the scene of conflict between the government and and armed guerrilla groups. MINUSMA currently has about 9,900 Troops.

El Salvador took steps toward joining that peacekeeping effort on January 8, when the Legislative Assembly approved the deployment of Troops to participate in the UN PKO mission. The countries of El Salvador and Mali established diplomatic relations on September 23, 2014, at UN headquarters.

The country's contingent joins other peacekeeping groups which are deployed to what is called the Azawad Strip, where isolated jihadist groups, in addition to Tuareg rebel groups, frequently attack the Malian Army, MINUSMA, or rival groups .


While it is not expected to engage in armed conflict, the Salvadoran contingent is prepared for it. “This is not a combat mission, but there could be incidents there in which our forces must use their weapons,” Munguía Payés said during a speech ahead of the deployment of the country's 10th military group to the peace keeping mission in Lebanon, according to Contacto Hoy
.

“Every Air Force mission is a risky mission,” Col. Palacios Garay said, but added that “the situation in Mali is progressing as expected. They informed us that there had been a decrease in the level of hostilities because of the negotiations that the UN is conducting with the insurgents.”

In addition to the Mali assignment, Salvadoran Troops are also donning blue helmets in UN peacekeeping missions in Haiti and Lebanon.

Mission will bring positive attention to Salvadoran Military


Participating in the UN mission in Mali will improve the experience and prominence of the Salvadoran Armed Forces, which is well known for its involvement in UN peace keeping operations.

In an interview with Diálogo
in December 2014, General Rafael Melara, Chief of the Joint Staff of the Salvadoran Armed Forces, explained that the country's military is not only bound by Constitutional mandates to defend the nation and its territorial integrity, but also to cooperate with international peace efforts.

"We have done so as part of our foreign policy and also in gratitude for the peacekeeping efforts that occurred in El Salvador, which ended in 1992. Now, we cooperate with international peace efforts. So much so that we have participated in missions in Iraq, we have sent contingents for three-and-a-half years to Afghanistan, we now have a contingent in Lebanon – where we have had a presence for six years – and we have been in Haiti for two years, working on the reconstruction efforts in that country," he said.

In addition to solidifying El Salvador's relationships with other countries, participating in peace missions also makes pilots and mechanics more effective, and helps optimize their training.“This peacekeeping mission will obviously raise the prestige of the Salvadoran Army’s Air Units,” said Pedro Trujillo, director of the Institute of Political Studies and International Relations at Francisco Marroquín University in Guatemala. Providing such assistance "opens up a lot of doors."


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