Military Training Looks to the Future in Peru

Military Training Looks to the Future in Peru

By Geraldine Cook/Diálogo
November 06, 2017

A unique academic environment pervades the halls of the Peruvian Air Force (FAP, per its Spanish acronym) Air War College. The school has high standards of quality and is educationally demanding for FAP officers. In its classrooms, students pay close attention and take notes on national defense and security, strategic planning, military operations, and civilian interaction, among other topics. They take on a great responsibility as they prepare to be the institution's new leaders. “The academic level has been stupendous, really good professors,” said FAP Colonel Pablo Patrón, air defense specialist and student in the High Command Program (PAM, per its Spanish acronym). “The academic level is higher. It helps us understand how the state apparatus evolves, which propels us into public administration.” The yearlong PAM targets colonels who have the best chance at promotion, so they can fine-tune their knowledge on strategic design, planning, training, and execution within the military realm, while allowing them to analyze the domestic situation to resolve conflicts. “Our objective is to train all the FAP officers of different ranks, so that they are qualified for any position and can lead our institution when they finish their studies,” said FAP Major General César Augusto Fernández Corbetto, commandant of the school. “We want officers to be trained and leave here as prepared as possible. [We want] those who graduate to be as well trained as possible and for them to make the best decisions in their assignments.” The school The Air War College was founded in 1946, and officially inaugurated in 1947, three years before the official inception of FAP. It has operated on different military premises in Lima, Peru, but has maintained its own facilities in the district of La Molina since 1991. As Peruvian military aviation was still being developed, U.S. Air Force Colonel Robert C. Orth acted as the original commandant of the school from 1947 to 1948. The first class of officers graduated in 1950. The academic institution has an average of 250 students, including officers from the country's other military branches. The students are selected by their respective units and assigned to academic work full-time for one year. The teaching staff comprises active and retired military members and civilians. “This school is highly sought after,” Maj. Gen. Fernández said. He explained that of an average of 80 prospective candidates each year, only 28 officers are admitted. The academic programs are divided into different areas, and the Peruvian Ministry of Education is in the process of accrediting it as an official school of higher education. The area of Military Doctrine, for example, includes PMA, the Command and General Staff Program (PCEM, per its Spanish acronym), the Service Officers General Staff Program, and the Tactics Program. In addition to being certified in their respective areas of specialization, PMA and PCEM students graduate with a master’s degree in Aerospace Doctrine and Administration from the National University of San Marcos, Peru. Other certification courses are offered as well, such as Accident Prevention and Investigation, Aviation Medicine, and Psychology, among others. The school also has academic internships with other institutions, both domestically and internationally. Officers from Argentina, Brazil, South Korea, and other countries have attended its classes. “Interacting with other forces is very important,” said Col. Patrón, who has completed nine months of studies and is attending classes with his counterparts from FAP and other Peruvian forces. “Although we are from the same country, under the same flag, and speak the same language, we do have some differences, but sharing experiences with them is very enriching,” he said. Quality education “It’s a great responsibility to be a professor at the Air War College. The officers come here with a high degree of knowledge and a vast amount of experience leading large units in the organization,” said Edward Pino Hurtado, faculty advisor and PAM coordinator. “We attach great importance to the evaluation of students in decision making and the critical analysis that they carry out during the planning process. This is complex and difficult, but it is fascinating and important.” Pino said that the academic programs are vital to the officers as they allow them to advance in their military careers. “Students who come here have many incentives; they're thinking about their future and their profession.” FAP Major Nadia Maycook, a PCEM student, is motivated by such a future. Three months after graduating, Maj. Maycook has honed her knowledge on planning and operational application of aerospace power in war processes. “We put into practice all the tools and the resources we have to implement during war,” she said. “Operationally, I am learning things you don't see every day in an administrative unit.” Maj. Maycook is part of a class of 32 students, including four women. “We are past the difficult phase of working as women and men,” she said. “At first, the change was more difficult for [the men], and the experience was the more difficult part for us, but not anymore, we don't have any difficulty working as a team.” For FAP First Lieutenant Cristian Medina, a helicopter pilot and Tactics Program student, the course has given him enriching experiences, especially in the study of military doctrine. “This is the first time we are seeing doctrine in an assertive manner, with people who are specialized in resolving issues based on their knowledge and, more than anything else, based on their experience.” Sitting in his classroom with 37 of his fellow students, ready for the start of the day's academic session, 1st Lt. Medina said that, in addition to the academic part, the relationship between the 38 students in the class has been essential. “You are with a lot of people, and each person is like a different world. So, you also learn what living together and working as a team means,” he said. “I am a helicopter pilot based in operations, and I am learning how others perform in their areas.”
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