Guatemalan Amphibious Troops Strengthen Skills
By Julieta Pelcastre/Diálogo August 03, 2018
Guatemalan Marines increase combat capabilities to improve security and counter narcotrafficking.
The Guatemalan Navy, with the support of the U.S. Marine Corpsy, trained a naval component in the Advanced Marine Course in Puerto Barrios, Izabal, throughout May 2018. The objective of the course was to improve the response capabilities of the Guatemalan Marines to conduct operations in various environments.
“We thank the U.S. government for contributing to the training of our marines,” Captain Erick Roberto Orellana, second commander of the Guatemalan Marine Brigade, told Diálogo. “It helped us strengthen our skills and capabilities to fulfill our amphibious and riverine missions in coastal areas.”
Soldiers of steel
The training consisted of high-performance tactical phases in areas such as urban operations, water combat, use of support weapons, as well as incursion and amphibious landing techniques in waters 1 kilometer off the coast. “Soldiers have to bear the weight of their own body, plus the weight of all the equipment and weapons,” said Capt. Orellana. “It’s hard, because it’s twice the effort to get to shore without sinking or drowning and without being noticed.”
With the support of U.S. service members, Guatemalan troops learned to take position in a war ship. They received specific combat training to respond to an ambush or enemy fire, and trained with modern physical conditioning techniques. U.S. service members also provided operational advice to naval and land officers of the Guatemalan Marine Brigade.
The Advanced Marine Course demands physical and mental strength, and not every candidate is able to complete the course and graduate. “Out of 80 students accepted, only 25 passed the course,” said Capt. Orellana. “We don’t want supermen; we seek to train elements that will contribute to maintaining the defense of sovereignty and deliver maximum results in the fight against national and international criminal organizations.”
The Guatemalan Marine Brigade contributes to the development of joint and combined military operations against any threat to the general public. According to the Guatemalan Ministry of Defense, the unit seeks to be the best-trained strategic brigade in the country to conduct operations in coastal, riverine, amphibious, and special environments.
Collaboration with the armed forces of the Western Hemisphere allows Guatemalan Armed Forces to improve their sea, air, and land defense. The U.S. Department of State, in its 2018 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, estimates that about 1,400 tons of cocaine were smuggled through the country in 2017, most was destined for the U.S market.
“Integrated cooperation with the U.S., Colombian, Mexican, and Chilean governments allows us to be trained, improve our own doctrine, and apply it in our fields to attain the best outcome in an operation, and make completion of tasks more dynamic,” Navy Lieutenant Eduardo Antonio Carmona, chief of the Naval Training Center of the Guatemalan Marine Forces, told Diálogo. “We have a more technical training with the U.S. military, while we focus more on the military’s own capabilities when we work with Latin American forces.
“Sometimes equipment or resources are inadequate, but marines are trained to complete assigned tasks with available resources. Marines know and trust they can fulfill their mission quickly and effectively, no matter how good their weapons or boots are.”
The Guatemalan Marine Brigade has receives tactical and physical training from the United States since 2013. According to Lt. Carmona, a total of 540 marines have been trained by way of the advanced course. “Thanks to this cooperation we seized a huge amount of drugs in the last three years,” Capt. Orellana concluded. U.S. Marine Corps amphibious troops will offer two more courses in 2018.