Peruvian Armed Forces Complete Haiti Training
By Geraldine Cook April 28, 2016
A battalion of Peruvian members of the Military completed rigorous physical training needed to participate in the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH).
More than 160 Peruvian Military members completed a preparatory course so they can participate in the United Nations (UN) Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). The Chanka Infantry Command’s Second Battalion – made up of 109 members of the Army, 34 from the Navy, and 19 from the Air Force – completed its training at the Peacekeeping Operations Training Center (CECOPAZ) in the district of Ancón and departed for the Caribbean island on April 23rd-24th.
The officers, non-commissioned officers, and warrant officers, who include 10 females across the service branches, trained from February 12th to March 19th in northern Lima. “This is the 25th contingent deployed to Haiti, and the second one in the joint Peruvian-Uruguayan effort,” Captain Gaetano Guevara, CECOPAZ’s director, told Diálogo
. “That effort will optimize our units and make them more professional.”
Under the command of Army Major José Luis Ñavincopa Acosta, the Chanka Infantry Command’s Second Battalion has received continuous instruction in UN peacekeeping doctrine and practices in the field. The service members were familiarized with the code of conduct and discipline, human rights, international humanitarian law, the Conventions on the Rights of the Child and the Rights of Women, gender-related topics, and international protocols.
Additionally, the Chanka Infantry Command’s Second Battalion performed rigorous physical training so they can control disturbances, distribute humanitarian aid, monitor mobilizations, perform daytime and nighttime urban combat, carry out patrols on land and water, establish stationary and mobile checkpoints, and participate in helicopter transportation operations. “The exercises and demonstrations were conducted in an urbanized area that’s built to be very similar to urban areas in Haiti,” Capt. Guevara said. “There is an enormous desert in that area, where we created a series of daytime and nighttime situations to allow leaders of these units and their personnel to resolve certain difficult and dangerous situations, in accordance with United Nations guidelines.”
Rigorous selection process
Peru’s Army, Air Force, and Navy determined which of their service members were best suited physically, psychologically, and behaviorally to participate in the training, while CECOPAZ ensured all candidates were at the center voluntarily. The yearlong missions have gotten progressively more difficult.
“A year away from your family, your country, and your habits means the selection must be extremely rigorous,” Capt. Guevara stated. “We are looking for men and women between 20 and 40 years of age who are strong physically and psychologically, and have a solid family support structure. There are important factors to avoid discipline problems or avoid the person being adversely affected by the long period out of the country.”
According to CECOPAZ, the center has trained approximately 8,000 Peruvian men and women, including 7,000 who have been deployed on peace missions, in its 12 years of operation. However, some service members ultimately choose not to participate in a peace mission upon completing training.
“Being a Blue Helmet is a passion and a vocation,” Capt. Guevara explained. “A Blue Helmet has no nationality, and understands that human tragedies must be overcome. Sadly, UN missions involve heartbreaking situations that we try to repair.”
The Chanka Infantry Command’s Second Battalion’s farewell ceremony was at the Army Headquarters’ Bolognesi Plaza on April 7th. It was attended by Defense Minister Jakke Valakivi, Admiral Jorge Ricardo Moscoso Flores, who is the Armed Forces Joint Chiefs of Staff, Naval Commander Edmundo Deville, Army Commander Luis Ramos, and other officers.
The Peruvian Military members will participate in a joint battalion with Uruguay, which has deployed 260 service members to MINUSTAH. The countries signed a memorandum of understanding in February 2015 to constitute a joint peacekeeping force made up of members of each nation’s Armed Forces.
“The principle task for Peruvian Blue Helmets in Haiti is to support the police in maintaining order in the country,” Capt. Guevara stated. “We will be attending an election in Haiti, and we hope that the Peruvian company’s support will be important for maintaining order in this new stage for the country.”
Haiti requested MINUSTAH
MINUSTAH, which was established in 2004, is present in Haiti at the request of the local government. From a security point of view, the mission has been a success, especially against the gangs operating freely in the capital of Port-au-Prince and in the areas of Belair, Cité Soleil, and Cité Militaire, Diálogo
in May 2014.
Throughout its history, Peru has had a great participation in peacekeeping missions throughout the world, including ones coordinated by the UN. Peru has been supporting MINUSTAH since 2004. And for the first time, on June 3rd, CECOPAZ will begin training Peruvian National Police officers to participate in MINUSTAH alongside UN police.
This past January marked Peru’s first involvement with the Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), as the Andean nation deployed a 205-member Engineering Battalion with expertise in airport to the continent.
Peru will remain in MINUSCA for 10 years, during which time its Military personnel will be relieved annually, according to an Armed Forces Joint Command press release dated January 5th.
Peru also is involved in the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire, the UN Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the UN Mission in South Sudan, the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei, and the UN – African Union Mission in Darfur.
“All of these actions spread the reputation of the Armed Forces,” Capt. Guevara said. “[We want to] improve our knowledge of the right to life and human rights, and also implement all of the knowledge we have acquired abroad in complicated and difficult situations in our country’s missions to provide a better tomorrow for our youth.”