Operation Unitas’ Vessels Take over the Colombian Caribbean
By Dialogo September 10, 2013
For the second time, the Colombian National Navy is hosting Operation Unitas, an international naval exercise where ships from different countries are performing different simulated military operations from September 6-15.
The Colombian Caribbean is hosting the 54th instance of the exercise, in which 1,800 sailors are visiting ‘La Heróica’ in 16 ships and two submarines, in order to conduct combined operations by means of a multinational force in a regional scenario with transnational threats and complex naval war environments.
“The aim of these exercises is interoperability, for the navies of the continent to operate jointly in a very quick way so they can develop exercises to defend sovereignty, perform basic maritime interdiction, and confront transnational crime and the new threats of drug and human trafficking. The final goal is to consolidate procedures and mechanisms to develop a multinational force at any given time,” Admiral Hernándo Wills Vélez, Colombian National Navy Commander, stated.
This annual exercise is organized by the Unites States Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM), and seeks to improve the mutual friendship and cooperation between participating armed forces, promote human rights and International Humanitarian Law (IHL) awareness, standardize operational planning procedures and increase awareness through professional conferences in the port phase.
“For Colombia, it is very important to host this exercise and it is a big challenge for the Colombian Navy; it will allow the Colombian military forces to continue being a benchmark in the international arena,” Admiral Wills said.
The National Navy is participating with a surface and submarine fleetcomposed of its four frigates: the ARC ‘Almirante Padilla,’ the ARC ‘Antioquia,’ and the ARC ‘Independiente’; and its two U209A-type oceanic submarines: the ARC ‘Pijao’ and the ARC ‘Tayrona.’
These ships are part of the Colombian fleet that was recently modernized in the first phase of ‘Plan Orión’ in Colombia’s own Cotecmar shipyard, one of the companies of the Defense’s Social and Enterprise Group (GSED).
Operation Unitas is a key exercise for Colombia because the National Navy is being strengthened by exchanging naval combat experiences, as well as by the ‘Cerrando Espacios’ (Closing Spaces) strategy for the fight against drugs, goods, weapons, currency trafficking and illegal immigration, in order to continue producing enduring and concrete results against transnational crime affecting the peace of Colombian citizens.