El Salvador Inaugurates New Center for Peace Operations
By Dialogo December 30, 2015BECAUSE THE GOVERNMENT REFUSES TO UNDERSTAND THAT WE ARE AT WAR AND THAT THE AIR FORCE POWER SHOULD BE USED TO DEFEND THE PEOPLE AND NOT TO GIVE A CIRCUS SHOW ON SEPTEMBER 15 IN THE STADIUMâ€¦
The Peace Operations Center (CEOPAZ) of the Salvadoran Armed Forces (FAES) now has of a modern complex funded through a $1.3 million donation from the Global Peace Operations Initiative (GPOI) by way of the United States Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), and the U.S. Embassy in El Salvador.
“Now, we have the space to conduct peace operations simulations that were previously done in much smaller areas,” said Colonel Jaime Cuéllar, CEOPAZ's Commander. “We thank the Military group [from the United States] for having selected us for this project. They have been staunchly supportive; without them, it would not be possible for our facilities to be in good condition.”
FAES' Engineering Command collaborated on the design and construction of the facility, which broke ground in January 2015 in the town of Lourdes in the department of La Libertad, and was inaugurated on November 20th.
Improving capacity to support UN missions
The GPOI is funded by the U.S. government and designed to improve the international capacity for carrying out the United Nations (UN) Peace Support Operations. Its goal is to support partner nations build their capability to foster and maintain competencies in peacekeeping; increase the number of Military troops and police units available for deployment; and facilitate the preparation, logistical support, and deployment of Military units.
In this instance, the GPOI aims to support El Salvador in strengthening its contributions to the UN and highlight the country's increasing role in peacekeeping operations worldwide. Military personnel selected to serve on peace operations going forward will be trained in the new complex for four months. They will train in logistical strategies on peace missions and how to drive armored vehicles, in addition to attending workshops on human rights and undergoing psychological and physical evaluations.
“(The) CEOPAZ now operates with a world-class center with the ability to train the next generation of peace forces in El Salvador and possibly those of neighboring countries in the region,” explained Major Stanley Medykowski, representing GPOI and SOUTHCOM in El Salvador. “The completion of this training space marks an important moment in the process of this multi-million dollar project because, upon the completion of all the facilities, the ability to provide support to peace operations will be enhanced.”
The CEOPAZ and SOUTHCOM hope to welcome more than 100 Military members annually at the new facility, though the number could vary depending on each peace mission's needs.
“Salvadoran participation in these peace missions exalts the name of our country at an international level, distinguishing it as a state that is democratic, responsible, and committed to humanitarian causes,” Salvadoran Minister of Defense David Munguía Payés said on November 20th during the farewell ceremony for the SALCON VI contingent that was deployed to support the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH).
The FAES has some 175 personnel, including officers, non-commissioned officers, enlistees, and administrative personnel, distributed among the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (FINUL), MINUSTAH, and the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).
In FINUL, the 10th contingent has conducted 4,900 operations, which include carrying out motorized patrols, vehicle checks, observation posts, airstrip security, and medical care, to assist Lebanese civilians on the Miguel de Cervantes base since June 2008.
In MINUSTAH, the SALCON VI contingent consists of 34 personnel from the Mechanized Infantry Company’s Chile 24 Battalion who have conducted 550 security and patrol operations in the city of Cap Haïtien.
However, FAES's largest deployment – 90 service members – are participating in MINUSMA, which is the Central American country's first independent peacekeeping mission. Since April 2015, this group has executed more than 2,800 patrol, transport, convoy escort, aerial surveillance and reconnaissance, medical transport, and search, rescue, and extraction operations.