Guatemalan Kaibiles Return from UN Peace Mission in Congo

Guatemalan Kaibiles Return from UN Peace Mission in Congo

By Dialogo
April 21, 2015




Members of the Guatemalan Kaibil Special Forces who had served on a peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo have been released from their quarantine in the Northern Air Command headquarters, in Santa Elena, Petén, with a clean bill of health.

The 150 Soldiers belong to the XIV Contingent of Special Forces that returned to Guatemala on March 10 after concluding their nine-month mission as part of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO). As part of its contribution to the UN peacekeeping missions, Guatemala has deployed three types of contingents, explained Guatemalan diplomat Edmond Mulet, Assistant Secretary General for Peacekeeping Operations at the United Nations.

The three contingents include the Kaibil Special Forces, who served in the MONUSCO mission in the DRC; the Military police in Haiti, who participated in the MINUSTAH mission; and the individual officers assigned as military observers or members of the Central Command of the Military force in several of the peace missions.

“In all three cases, the Guatemalan contributions have been very positive because they have achieved the mission and gone beyond what was expected of them,” Assistant Secretary General Mulet said. “Their ability to interact with the civilian population where they are deployed is particularly notable.”

The core of the Kaibiles mission was protecting civilians and humanitarian personnel as well as supporting the DRC government in its stabilization and peace consolidation efforts. The Kaibiles' experience and training in tropical guerrilla warfare was a key contribution to the UN mission in the African country.

The elite forces’ “mission is complex, but not impossible,” retired Guatemalan Army Colonel Jorge Antonio Ortega Gaytán wrote in Diálogo
in 2013. “To bring hope, shelter, security, and peace entails total devotion in serving our fellow human beings. The Kaibiles are trained according to the United Nations’ standards in order to join the Troops deployed in the Democratic Republic of Congo that are currently working shoulder to shoulder to consolidate peace in the heart of Africa.”

Participating in overseas peacekeeping missions presents a positive image of the Army and the Kaibiles, said retired Guatemalan Army Colonel Mario Mérida, a military analyst with the Guatemalan Network for Democratic Security.

“Guatemala is willing and able to contribute to these UN missions, and the Kaibiles have shown proper behavior in the areas where they have operated,” retired Col. Mérida said. “Domestically, Guatemalans recognized that the participation of the Kaibiles raises the profile of our country in ways not achieved by other entities, and there is no risk to our national security, given the numbers deployed."

The Guatemalan population, which respects “the effort of these Guatemalans representing our country,” gave the Kaibiles a warm welcome home, he added.

Troops followed WHO protocol for Ebola


While helping to keep the peace, Guatemalan Soldiers took precautions to protect themselves from the deadly Ebola virus, which broke out in the Congo in August. Troops underwent stringent medical examinations to ensure they were all in good health before traveling back home.

They were put in medical quarantine once they arrived in Guatemala “to help them acclimate to the weather and food,” a statement from the Defense Ministry said. The 21 days of isolation followed the protocol required by the World Health Organization (WHO), based on the known period of incubation of the Ebola virus. WHO declared Congo free of Ebola on November 21, 2014.

None of the 150 Soldiers presented any symptoms of Ebola. This development was not a surprise to the Guatemalan medical authorities, who already had explained that the Soldiers were conducting operations in areas that had not seen an Ebola outbreak; they were never in contact with any infected person and were quarantined for 15 days before leaving the African continent.

Selection process for peacekeeping missions is 'highly competitive'


The Guatemalan Troops who participated in MONUSCO served in the United Nations' largest peacekeeping force. The Guatemalan Army has been part of MONUSCO since 2005; the contingent that returned recently was the 14th mission Guatemala has sent to the central African country.

Taking part in peacekeeping missions is a personal and voluntary decision. “Nobody is forced to do it. Each time we prepare a contingent, we receive many more applications than the available slots, therefore, the selection process is highly competitive,” Assistant Secretary General Mulet explained. The UN is highly appreciative of Guatemalan Troops and Officers because of their professionalism, discipline, and sense of duty, he said. “They forge working relationships and camaraderie with contingents that come from other parts of the world, despite differences in language and traditions.”

Guatemalan Soldiers are proud to serve in peacekeeping missions, and see themselves as contributing to global peace and stability, Assistant Secretary General Mulet emphasized.

Kaibiles take courses and receive special training for mission


On peacekeeping missions, the Kaibiles, who are based in the Special Forces Kaibil Brigade, engage in training events, help provide security, and when needed engage in rescue operations.

Their training, their strong sense of service, their ability to survive in hostile areas and climate make the Kaibiles particularly suited for the work in Congo, ret. Col. Mérida said.

Before being deployed, the Kaibiles, the Military Police, and the Officers complete courses, orientation, and specialized training for each of their functions. The Regional Center for Peacekeeping Operations (CREOMPAZ), based in Cobán, Alta Verazpaz, "has a curriculum with the highest standards, where officers from other Central American countries also receive instruction,” Assistant Secretary General Mulet explained.

“When they return to Guatemala, the Soldiers bring life and work experiences in remote areas that they would have never had without participating in a UN mission,” he added. “These experiences are part of their formation, and they place them at the service of the country, as they have seen models, systems, and ways of working that can improve their military performance.”





Members of the Guatemalan Kaibil Special Forces who had served on a peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo have been released from their quarantine in the Northern Air Command headquarters, in Santa Elena, Petén, with a clean bill of health.

The 150 Soldiers belong to the XIV Contingent of Special Forces that returned to Guatemala on March 10 after concluding their nine-month mission as part of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO). As part of its contribution to the UN peacekeeping missions, Guatemala has deployed three types of contingents, explained Guatemalan diplomat Edmond Mulet, Assistant Secretary General for Peacekeeping Operations at the United Nations.

The three contingents include the Kaibil Special Forces, who served in the MONUSCO mission in the DRC; the Military police in Haiti, who participated in the MINUSTAH mission; and the individual officers assigned as military observers or members of the Central Command of the Military force in several of the peace missions.

“In all three cases, the Guatemalan contributions have been very positive because they have achieved the mission and gone beyond what was expected of them,” Assistant Secretary General Mulet said. “Their ability to interact with the civilian population where they are deployed is particularly notable.”

The core of the Kaibiles mission was protecting civilians and humanitarian personnel as well as supporting the DRC government in its stabilization and peace consolidation efforts. The Kaibiles' experience and training in tropical guerrilla warfare was a key contribution to the UN mission in the African country.

The elite forces’ “mission is complex, but not impossible,” retired Guatemalan Army Colonel Jorge Antonio Ortega Gaytán wrote in Diálogo
in 2013. “To bring hope, shelter, security, and peace entails total devotion in serving our fellow human beings. The Kaibiles are trained according to the United Nations’ standards in order to join the Troops deployed in the Democratic Republic of Congo that are currently working shoulder to shoulder to consolidate peace in the heart of Africa.”

Participating in overseas peacekeeping missions presents a positive image of the Army and the Kaibiles, said retired Guatemalan Army Colonel Mario Mérida, a military analyst with the Guatemalan Network for Democratic Security.

“Guatemala is willing and able to contribute to these UN missions, and the Kaibiles have shown proper behavior in the areas where they have operated,” retired Col. Mérida said. “Domestically, Guatemalans recognized that the participation of the Kaibiles raises the profile of our country in ways not achieved by other entities, and there is no risk to our national security, given the numbers deployed."

The Guatemalan population, which respects “the effort of these Guatemalans representing our country,” gave the Kaibiles a warm welcome home, he added.

Troops followed WHO protocol for Ebola


While helping to keep the peace, Guatemalan Soldiers took precautions to protect themselves from the deadly Ebola virus, which broke out in the Congo in August. Troops underwent stringent medical examinations to ensure they were all in good health before traveling back home.

They were put in medical quarantine once they arrived in Guatemala “to help them acclimate to the weather and food,” a statement from the Defense Ministry said. The 21 days of isolation followed the protocol required by the World Health Organization (WHO), based on the known period of incubation of the Ebola virus. WHO declared Congo free of Ebola on November 21, 2014.

None of the 150 Soldiers presented any symptoms of Ebola. This development was not a surprise to the Guatemalan medical authorities, who already had explained that the Soldiers were conducting operations in areas that had not seen an Ebola outbreak; they were never in contact with any infected person and were quarantined for 15 days before leaving the African continent.

Selection process for peacekeeping missions is 'highly competitive'


The Guatemalan Troops who participated in MONUSCO served in the United Nations' largest peacekeeping force. The Guatemalan Army has been part of MONUSCO since 2005; the contingent that returned recently was the 14th mission Guatemala has sent to the central African country.

Taking part in peacekeeping missions is a personal and voluntary decision. “Nobody is forced to do it. Each time we prepare a contingent, we receive many more applications than the available slots, therefore, the selection process is highly competitive,” Assistant Secretary General Mulet explained. The UN is highly appreciative of Guatemalan Troops and Officers because of their professionalism, discipline, and sense of duty, he said. “They forge working relationships and camaraderie with contingents that come from other parts of the world, despite differences in language and traditions.”

Guatemalan Soldiers are proud to serve in peacekeeping missions, and see themselves as contributing to global peace and stability, Assistant Secretary General Mulet emphasized.

Kaibiles take courses and receive special training for mission


On peacekeeping missions, the Kaibiles, who are based in the Special Forces Kaibil Brigade, engage in training events, help provide security, and when needed engage in rescue operations.

Their training, their strong sense of service, their ability to survive in hostile areas and climate make the Kaibiles particularly suited for the work in Congo, ret. Col. Mérida said.

Before being deployed, the Kaibiles, the Military Police, and the Officers complete courses, orientation, and specialized training for each of their functions. The Regional Center for Peacekeeping Operations (CREOMPAZ), based in Cobán, Alta Verazpaz, "has a curriculum with the highest standards, where officers from other Central American countries also receive instruction,” Assistant Secretary General Mulet explained.

“When they return to Guatemala, the Soldiers bring life and work experiences in remote areas that they would have never had without participating in a UN mission,” he added. “These experiences are part of their formation, and they place them at the service of the country, as they have seen models, systems, and ways of working that can improve their military performance.”


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