Partner Nations Train to Combat Criminal Organizations
By Dialogo October 19, 2015
Officers from four Armies of Central America and the Dominican Republic recently tested their ability to make tactical and operational decisions during clashes with illegal armed groups by using simulators at the Computerized Tactical Training Center (CETAC) of the Armed Forces of El Salvador (FAES).
There, from September 21-25, forty participants from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and the Dominican Republic attended the Conference of Central American Armed Forces’ (CFAC) first Computer Simulation Exercise Applied to the International Law of Armed Conflict. There, amid staged high-pressure combat situations, officers led Troops and managed Military resources to combat illegal armed organizations similar to those operating trafficking networks in the region.
“The officials have reaffirmed their understanding of human rights to protect civilians during operations against illegal armed groups,” said Brigadier General Mauricio Villacorta, director of the FAES Doctrine and Military Education Command. “This technological exercise also helped strengthen command and control, decision-making, and operational planning.”
Troops engaged in simulated combat scenarios in different environments, weather, and situations involving threats and Troop deployments, since conducting exercises in the real world with Troops on the ground would be far more costly. costlier.
“The teams undergo combat simulations – some without prior planning, with evolving scenarios, working together,” said Colonel Andrés Zamora of El Salvador, an engineer who served as one of the workshop instructors. “Crisis management and civilian assistance training exercises were also designed.”
Forging ties with the civilian population
Since building a rapport with civilians was one of the training’s key components, Military officials learned to show civilians, through their knowledge and skills, that they are staunch allies of peace and security.
“When the population is able to see how we operate – as professionals who always aim to protect their rights without violating them – they then understand that we are not just prepared for a war,” said Dominican Republic Armed Forces representative Lieutenant Angelita Peña. “We are ready to protect them from serious threats such as the illegal armed groups.”
Lieutenant Colonel Sidney Marenco, FAES representative at the training, said these exercises demonstrate the ways illegal armed groups operate.
“We had the opportunity to learn details about how these groups are trying to move throughout Central America, threatening the security of our nations,” said Lt. Col. Marenco. “This exercise has allowed us to incorporate this knowledge in order to defend the civilian population from the threats they pose.”
International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) delegates guided the Soldiers during the joint exercises.
“Our work focuses on jointly reflecting on the need for the Military to act in situations of armed conflict and missions to maintain public order,” said Pascal Pinot, the ICRC liaison to the Armed Forces and Security Forces of Central America.
At the end of the computerized workshop, Derek Spranger, ICRC's representative in El Salvador, spoke to the participants about the importance of the teamwork fostered through the CFAC. “The conference is an important forum within the framework of cooperation, the exchange of best practices, training, and brotherhood among those who devote their lives to the militaries of each of their countries.”
A sub-regional Military organization with the mission of contributing to the region’s security, development, and military integration, CFAC was founded by the presidents of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua founded on November 12, 1997. It has sustained an ongoing and systematic effort of cooperation, coordination, and mutual support for the joint analysis of issues of common interest and providing an optimal level of defense against threats to democracy, peace, and freedom.