Peru Stands Out at WHINSEC
By Julieta Pelcastre/Diálogo January 03, 2018The Peruvian Army (EP, in Spanish) consistently promotes training and personnel exchanges at the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC). Recently, EP Captain Jean Carlo Céliz Rocha, instructor at Chorrillos Military School in Lima, received the highest award—the title of Distinguished Honor Graduate—in the Maneuver Captains Career Course at WHINSEC (MCCC-W). WHINSEC teaches the course in conjunction with the U.S. Army’s Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning, Georgia.
“You don’t work for an award but for the good of your country and the satisfaction of gaining knowledge and experience needed to thrive,” Capt. Céliz told Diálogo. For 26 weeks, 32 students from Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, the United States, and Uruguay trained to become general staff officers and combined arms commanders capable of carrying out combat duties against an adaptable enemy in a full-spectrum environment. The training concluded November 8th, 2017.
The captains selected among the best in their service branches and nations were trained on procedures to lead troops and conduct operations with light infantry companies and equipment, combat brigades, and mechanized and armored infantry brigades. They also took classes on human rights, due process, and the rules of engagement.
During MCCC-W, five operations, or alphas, took place. “Alpha 5 was the hardest. We got the order at 0800 hours, and, by 0500 hours, we had to have completed our plan as company commander,” Capt. Céliz said. “This forces the commander to make quick decisions in a limited time frame to develop and execute the plan.”
In the fifth operation, Capt. Céliz planned a brigade-level combat mission over urban terrain, in which he had to take action against insurgent elements inside a police station in the city, with the least amount of casualties possible. In addition to using the U.S. Army doctrine as a guide, he used creative thinking and critical reasoning to make decisions and choose a course of action.
“Now, with these operations, we see how a well-determined tactical operation from the forces can be undermined by the enemy’s information operations,” Capt. Céliz said. “We have to work legitimately and in strict adherence to international humanitarian law, respect the people and direct our maneuvers against the threat. Of this the Americans have a very clear understanding.”
“No nation, no army can act in isolation. We must be united in order to face common threats,” Brigadier General Miguel Balta, director of Education and Doctrine for EP, told Diálogo. “Our relationship [with WHINSEC] goes back many years. They always help us with military training. They’re leaders in providing training for military, police, and civilian personnel of the Western Hemisphere.”
Since 2001, WHINSEC shares the vocation of partner nations’ militaries and security forces in the Western Hemisphere within the context of the democratic principles set forth in the Charter of the Organization of American States. Course attendees have the opportunity to exchange experiences with counterparts from other countries who face similar challenges in different geographic and cultural environments.
“WHINSEC’s professional programs have allowed us to spread this vision to 744 Peruvian Army officers, warrant officers, and cadets in the last 10 years,” Brig. Gen. Balta said. “We return to our countries strengthened with military knowledge, tactics, techniques, and procedures—and above all with an idea of the realities and experience of sharing the same space with so many nations that bolster international cooperation,” Capt. Céliz added.
On the right path
“Peru seeks to provide an excellent education to its military corps. The military doctrine of the United States is a global standard,” Brig. Gen. Balta said. “The U.S. allow us to form better corps with this educational spirit derived from democratic principles.”
EP Sergeant Major William Villacorta was appointed WHINSEC’s International Command Sergeant Major in May 2017. In August 2017, 54 cadets from Chorrillos Military School graduated from the institute’s Leadership Development course with honors. Cadets strengthened their knowledge on the use of leadership skills in tactics, techniques, and abilities of light infantry units for the benefit of the military institution.
“We are pleased to be on the right path with WHINSEC,” Brig. Gen. Balta said. “This union allows us to make a transformational leap in Peruvian Army doctrine.”
“I hope to share with upcoming generations the knowledge I’ve acquired in the United States and get them adjusted to our new realities and new threats, such as narcotrafficking, illegal logging, and human trafficking that impact our region,” Capt. Céliz said. EP plans to establish a Leadership Center of Excellence for officers, warrant officers, and noncommissioned officers to create a ripple effect of what is learned at WHINSEC.
Peru also plans to send 63 cadets and four warrant officers to WHINSEC in 2018. The goal is to continue professional development, pursue strategic alliance in education, and train its best officers to be the hemisphere’s leaders. “The modernization of our organization must happen. It’s the fundamental basis of our growth as an army,” Brig. Gen. Balta concluded.