More than a century of forming Peruvian leaders
By Dialogo February 11, 2014
The Peruvian Army’s War College (ESGE) is a high-level academic center recognized internationally for its excellence. Founded in 1904, ESGE’s initial mission was to prepare a group of officers and train them for the complex duties that the Joint Staff’s personnel perform.
However, as regions were threatened by insurgencies during the 1960s, the institution was forced to include guerrilla warfare training. Later, in the 1980s, the school went through a major transformation of its curriculum to confront the emergence of terrorism. The Peruvian Army organized Major Units, with the mission of combating the terrorist organizations such as the Shining Path and Túpac Amaru Revolutionary Movement.
Due to the resurgence of the terrorist group Shining Path, which was considered extinct in the 1990s, Diálogo visited ESGE in October 2013 to speak with its director, Brigadier General José Luis Vigil León, about how the institution is preparing its officers to confront this old threat again.
DIÁLOGO: General, when organizing the ESGE’s curriculum, are terrorist organizations, such as Shining Path and other illegal groups, taken into consideration for intelligence and counterintelligence classes?
Brigadier General José Luis Vigil León: ESGE-EPG [Graduate School] officers acquire different capabilities, not only in conventional warfare, but also in non-conventional warfare. As a result, when the syllabus is designed, we consider the current situation of the fight against terrorism, with the goal of training officers in planning and conducting counter-terrorist operations.
DIÁLOGO: What is your main challenge as ESGE director? What are the goals and priorities in your tenure as director of this institution?
Brig. Gen. Vigil: The ESGE-EPG's mission is to provide academic training to Army and guest officers in military sciences, so they can perform Command and Joint Staff roles during the execution of military operations. In addition, we provide training in modern techniques of institutional management, aimed at achieving an efficient strategic leadership when carrying out different responsibilities, as well as organizing and conducting training programs, such as crisis management and decision making, among others. As head of ESGE-EPG, one of my main challenges is to gain recognition for the Warfare School as one of the main and most prestigious institutions of higher education in the region, aiming towards the future with international projection and aligned with innovative technology. This is done in accordance with our vision of what it means to be the main training center with the highest intellectual, moral and physical levels that create leaders able to successfully assess, manage and conduct military, civil and national socioeconomic development operations by making efficient use of human, material and technological resources facilitated by the State.
DIÁLOGO: What are the Peruvian Warfare School’s plans in terms of modernization and technological development?
Brig. Gen. Vigil: We are supported by the Army’s Tactical Training Center, with an up-to-date syllabus that allows training in real time, not only in strategic situations and military tactics, but also in preventing and responding to natural disasters. In addition, we have an infrastructure that is helpful in achieving the training goals.
DIÁLOGO: How are doctrinal simulations conducted in the classroom? Is there any war gaming tool that might help in developing planning skills?
Brig. Gen. Vigil: ESGE-EPG is committed to modernity and technological development, and we have great plans on a national and international level, including agreements with other institutions. We are planning to include Cyber Warfare doctrine in the near future.
DIÁLOGO: Are there any strategic alliances with other academic institutions that might help improve officer training? Are these public or private?
Brig. Gen. Vigil: According to the vision and mission of the ESGE-EPG, the officers’ training and improvement are priority. Therefore, our students complete master’s degree programs and courses offered by public and private institutions through agreements, such as the National Higher Education Center, the Diplomatic Academy, ESAN University [Graduate Business Administration School] and the University of Maryland for foreign exchanges.
DIÁLOGO: Are there any foreign students attending the school? How is their interaction
Brig. Gen. Vigil: According to the command’s policy of strengthening international relations, there are Peruvian officers studying in different countries. Distinguished professors from Colombia, Brazil and Argentina are part of ESGE-EPG’s faculty. Moreover, a Venezuelan officer is enrolled in the program of higher command, aimed at colonel-ranked officers, while Argentine, Brazilian and South Korean officers are enrolled in the Major Units program of combat, aimed at major-ranked officers.
DIÁLOGO: Could you express some final remarks to Diálogo's audience?
Brig. Gen. Vigil: ESGE-EPG is strongly committed to globalization, which is now part of our reality, and we invite officers from different countries to study and improve their skills in this center of education. We will be glad to receive them and exchange experience and knowledge to strengthen hemispheric security.
These courses should be taught to the sub-officers as well, to prepare them for the modern times we are currently living. I'D LIKE TO KNOW WHEN ENROLLMENT STARTS