General Pablo Paredes González, commander of the Paraguayan Air Force (FAP, in Spanish) spoke with Diálogo during his participation at the South American Air Chiefs Conference, held in Tucson, Arizona, November 4–8.
Diálogo: What is your main challenge as commander of FAP?
General Juan Pablo Paredes González, commander of the Paraguayan Air Force: I have two key priorities: the utmost professionalization of the institution’s human resources and at the same time attaining new air means.
Diálogo: What is the importance of your participation at the South American Air Chiefs Conference?
Gen. Paredes: We have transnational crimes that affect all nations, and, in that sense, this conference is fundamental to focus on ways to cooperate and exchange knowledge, which is only possible through the interaction of the region’s air chiefs, as we can help resolve common problems together.
Diálogo: During your presentation about FAP’s capabilities, you addressed air traffic control to prevent illegal flights. What kind of activities do you carry out to this end?
Gen. Paredes: We participate in air traffic control activities to counter illegal flights exiting Paraguay or coming in from countries of the region. To do so, we rely on two short-range primary tactical radar, even though they don’t reach far enough to allow us to cover our entire national territory. Our radar allow us to obtain current information about irregular flight transits over our airspace, especially in areas where these flights are ongoing, and we also work in collaboration with the National Civil Aeronautics Directorate. We’re currently seeking new options to acquire two primary radars and set them in strategic points of the country, so that we can get better and more efficient coverage.
Diálogo: How does the information exchange occur with neighboring countries, particularly with Argentina, Brazil, and Bolivia?
Gen. Paredes: Information exchange is part of the Sovereign Guaraní Sky (Cielo Guaraní Soberano) program, which allows us to improve non-lethal airspace control and combat the transport and traffic of illegal goods, in which several government agencies participate, including the Public Ministry, National Police, and National Counter-Drug Secretariat. This information exchange occurs under specific international agreements to which governments of participating countries are signatories. We don’t have primary long-range radar, but we use the information Brazil, Argentina, and Bolivia provide us to process it at the Air Surveillance Center and then intercept or interdict narcotrafficking or other illegal activities by air, with the air means available to FAP. These information exchange agreements with neighboring countries have given us positive results in the fight against narcotrafficking and other transnational crimes.
Diálogo: How does FAP prepare to face humanitarian aid situations?
Gen. Paredes: Paraguay counts on the National Emergency Secretariat with which several government agencies are involved and where the Armed Forces have a key role, since the moment an emergency is declared, we all make our capabilities — human resources and means — available to respond. FAP has a particularly important role because, in the case of floods, for example, most of the time, the only way to attend to people facing emergency situations is by air means, whether to evacuate, provide medical assistance, or transport food supplies.