Peru Puts Counterterrorism Experience to Use
By Dialogo April 01, 2010
The command post of the Peruvian contingent serving with MINUSTAH in Port-au-Prince was destroyed by the January 12, 2010, earthquake. When Diálogo visited the camp in March, the Peruvians were still living and working in tents. The contingent was increased from 216 to 400 men to help with humanitarian aid efforts and patrol duties, especially along the border with the Dominican Republic.
“We have three bases on the border,” Lt. Col. Darcy Gómez Fernández, the Commander of MINUSTAH’s Peruvian contingent, explained. “After the earthquake, our mission changed and became focused on convoy escorts and patrols along the entire border,” he said.
A major concern, according to the Commander, was a massive prisoner escape from the prisons damaged by the earthquake. Experts from MINUSTAH and U.N. and Haitian police concluded that these prisoners would try to "ee to the Dominican Republic.
“Patrols in these border zones are not along a road but in the countryside, on foot. This makes things a bit more complicated and takes a lot out of the personnel. Previously, there weren’t many patrols of this kind, but now there’s been an increase in order to have a presence all along the border. It’s necessary for people to see and observe that the border is being guarded by people from MINUSTAH. This results in more strain on the personnel, more use of vehicles, communications and military equipment. For this reason, the increase in the number of our men here was fundamental,” the Commander said.
For him, this experience is very enriching because “we learn from other countries, and on occasion, I imagine that other countries can learn something from how we operate. It’s necessary to keep in mind that we are coming from operating in areas of subversive activity in Peru. We have the problem of terrorism, and the Army is constantly being used in counterterrorism operations. This gives us a great deal of experience in military operations.
“We’ve had, in recent years, a good number of casualties in the Peruvian Army as a consequence of terrorism, and this also imposes the requirement that our personnel be constantly trained and gives us a certain amount of experience in counterterrorism operations. Then, in some way, we apply that here,” the Commander concluded.