Conducting military operations to safeguard Peru’s northern borders as commander of the Northern Operational Command; leading units to combat terrorism and narcotrafficking in the center-east, in the heart of the Apurímac, Ene, and Mantaro Rivers Valley (VRAEM); and commanding the 2nd Infantry Brigade are some of the achievements of Army General Manuel Jesús Martín Gómez de la Torre Araníbar, head of the Peruvian Armed Forces’ Joint Command (CCFFAA).
Gen. Gómez de la Torre, who has more than 35 years of professional military service, spoke with Diálogo about dismantling the Marxist-Leninist-Maoist Communist Party of Peru (PCP-MLM) and breaking its alliance with narcotraffickers, among other topics.
Diálogo: How does the Special Command VRAEM (CEVRAEM) prepare to neutralize criminal actions in the “hard zone” and provide security for its inhabitants?
Army General Manuel Gómez de la Torre Araníbar, head of the Peruvian Armed Forces’ Joint Command: In the CEVRAEM we have joint forces consisting of the Army, Navy, and Air Force and integrated forces with the National Police and our Special Forces component. Likewise, in recent operations, we coordinated very closely with the Public Ministry, since the operations we carry out have full respect for human rights and international humanitarian law. CEVRAEM personnel have very good training and equipment to carry out their operations, since this special operational command has the specific mission of dismantling the central committee and all terrorist elements of the PCP-MLM that still exist in that region. We also have the Joint Intelligence and Special Operations Command (CIOEC), which carries out operations in support of the CEVRAEM, which has allowed us to work with different commands simultaneously, with excellent coordination and excellent results.
Diálogo: Talking about excellent results, what are some achievements so far in 2022?
Gen. Gómez de la Torre: The CEVRAEM was created in March 2008, and over time, the units that have participated in the fight against terrorism and other illicit activities such as narcotrafficking in this sector have managed to neutralize a good number of the main leaders and members of terrorism. In 2022, the results are evident in operations at the combat group, patrol, and task force levels. For example, Operation Patriot against the central committee of the PCP-MLM, on August 11, 2022, resulted in a large seizure of weapons, communications equipment, supplies, medicines, explosives, etc.
Diálogo: Is this fight against narcotrafficking and criminal organizations supported by joint work with the United States?
Gen. Gómez de la Torre: We’ve always had an excellent relationship with the United States and we currently have a liaison officer at U.S. Southern Command. We work with the military support group at the U.S. Embassy in Lima, with which we have ongoing coordination for a series of requirements and needs, such as, for example, support with intelligence tools, training, training, exchanges, and actions that have finally made it possible on the battlefield, when it comes to conducting operations, to have the success that we hope for.
Diálogo: Along the same lines of cooperation, are there new agreements between the Peruvian Armed Forces and the West Virginia National Guard?
Gen. Gómez de la Torre: Indeed, in August 2022, I received the visit of U.S. Major General William E. Crane, adjutant general for the West Virginia National Guard, with the objective of creating the basis for future cooperation agreements to strengthen military capabilities within the State Partnership Program. Among the topics discussed, we shared experiences in natural disaster risk management, multinational exercises, and humanitarian aid operations, among others. For example, on the subject of natural disasters, we tried to strengthen certain training points, such as the preparation of our personnel who participate in United Nations peacekeeping operations.
Diálogo: And finally, what’s new in the area of human rights and international humanitarian law?
Gen. Gómez de la Torre: I remember that as a lieutenant or ensign, I carried a small handbook on human rights in the pocket of my uniform. We have always been concerned about respect for others; just as discipline is fundamental within the institution, respect among ourselves and the population is also staple. Human rights are in the curriculum of the different educational levels in the Armed Forces; the Ministry of Defense has the Peruvian Armed Forces’ Center for International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights, which has international prestige and offers courses to military and civilian personnel. Today it is essential to have operational legal advisors, who are career legal advisors, who follow courses in operational law and who are part of the General Staffs even participating in decision making so that operations are always within the framework of the protection of rights.