Army General Oscar Arnaldo Cardozo González, commander of the Paraguayan Army, met with Diálogo at his headquarters to discuss institutional advances.
Diálogo: What is the Paraguayan Army’s main challenge?
Army General Oscar Arnaldo Cardozo González, commander of the Paraguayan Army: Our main challenge is to modernize the current institutional structure. We are working to consolidate a reorganization in the Armed Forces, and of course, the Army is not immune to it. We need an Army that can respond to current challenges, such as the fight against organized crime and other scourges; that strengthens its own mission and those established in the Constitution; and [that] adapts the organization of operational units so that they become more flexible and modern. This restructuring calls for corps to become divisions and divisions to become brigades; this transformation depends largely on congressional support and an investment plan. Admittedly, this process has stalled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but we will continue the process to complete the planned objectives. At the same time, we are in a process of modernizing communications equipment, which is in the budget approval stage and will provide greater capacity in terms of command, control, and communications within the organizational structure.
Diálogo: How does the Paraguayan Army support operations that the National Anti-Drug Secretariat (SENAD, in Spanish) leads to fight narcotrafficking?
Gen. Cardozo: The Army supports SENAD with military personnel and logistics. We have military personnel assigned to SENAD and trained to work towards this goal; we provide our facilities to house SENAD personnel in military units throughout the national territory, as well as training areas, specifically in the Army’s Special Troops and its Infantry School.
Diálogo: What advances have been made in the professionalization of noncommissioned officers (NCOs) in the Paraguayan Army?
Gen. Cardozo: We have made significant progress in professionalizing NCOs, such as the recent request to create the Command Advisors Course, which will train NCOs for positions such as command NCO and aides for military attachés of partner nations with whom we have ties. On the other hand, the NCO Military College has modified its syllabus, so that NCOs can complete the first basic course and then take the second one within each armed force, in order to increase their capabilities within the main units. At the same time, this school teaches light infantry courses before graduation, so as to have better human resources among the Army’s NCOs.
Diálogo: What type of exchanges does the Paraguayan Army carry out with the United States?
Gen. Cardozo: We have an Army liaison officer at Southern Command’s headquarters, in the Miami facilities. We have personnel and instructors who attend the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, and we carry out an array of exchanges, such as the Senior Enlisted Leaders Seminar [during] Fuerzas Comando, and the joint assessment of sites for engineering work, including members of the Massachusetts [Army] National Guard’s 101st Engineering Battalion and engineers from different units of the Paraguayan Army Engineering Command. In addition, we exchange information between experts from the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and officers of the Paraguayan Armed Forces, relating to different topics on images and mobile geographic intelligence awareness. The COVID-19 pandemic stalled many exchanges, which we expect to resume in the medium term.
Diálogo: In which countries does the Paraguayan Army take part in United Nations peacekeeping operations?
Gen. Cardozo: Currently, we have military observers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in the Republic of South Sudan, in the Central African Republic, [and] in Colombia, and we work together with the Argentine Army in the mission in Cyprus, as well as with the Uruguayan Army contingent in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.