Diálogo met with General Manuel Jesús Martín Gómez de la Torre Araníbar, chief of the Peruvian Armed Forces’ Joint Command (CCFFAA, in Spanish) to discuss military advances in the fight against criminal organizations.
Diálogo: What are your main goals as chief of the CCFFAA?
General Manuel Jesús Martín Gómez de la Torre Araníbar, chief of the Peruvian Armed Forces’ Joint Command: Among the planned goals is to reduce to a minimum remnants of the PCP-MLM [Marxist-Leninist-Maoist Communist Party of Peru], settled in the Apurímac, Ene, and Mantaro Rivers Valley [VRAEM, in Spanish], and to destroy their alliance with narcotrafficking. We are also focusing on military participation in the disaster risk management system to continue our support for the nation’s well-being, which we’ve demonstrated in actions such as when we made available the necessary infrastructure to transport vaccines and [supported] vaccination campaigns against COVID-19. Another of our priorities is to increase our participation in peacekeeping operations overseas.
Diálogo: What is the overall assessment of operations in the VRAEM region in the fight against terrorism and other illicit activities?
Gen. Gómez de la Torre: Our overall assessment is significant and positive, in favor of the Armed Forces [FFAA, in Spanish] and the State, because we conduct military operations with the Special Operations Intelligence Command [CIOEC, in Spanish] and the VRAEM Special Command [CEVRAEM, in Spanish] to neutralize terrorist criminals in the so-called “hard zone” and keep this threat under control. We’ve achieved isolating terrorists from their support bases. On the one hand, the CIOEC has carried out 14 major operations in early November 2021, such as Operation Auqui, where part of the terrorist organization’s production forces were dismantled and the terrorist Fernán was neutralized; and Operation Challhuamayo, over a strategic camp in the Pampa Aurora area, where three terrorists were neutralized.
Regarding support for the Peruvian National Police [PNP, in Spanish] in the fight against narcotrafficking between Atalaya and Echarate, 36 clandestine airstrips have been dismantled and more than 2 tons of cocaine hydrochloride and large quantities of controlled chemical precursors [were seized]. CEVRAEM carries out, on a daily basis and with greater intensity, the consolidation of territorial control in key place of the VRAEM, establishing a State presence on exit routes in the hard zone in Pupacolpa, Sanabamba, Huarcatán, and Putis, among other key locations, as well as in the districts of Canayre and Vizcatán del Ene, to deny narcotrafficking any kind of advantage to its illegal activity.
Diálogo: What new technologies are being used to combat terrorism in the VRAEM?
Gen. Gómez de la Torre: We’ve been able to adapt new technologies to facilitate the success of operations, such as the use of drones, UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles], radars, optronic equipment in aircraft, and means that help us detect enemy communications.
Diálogo: What kind of interagency cooperation do the FFAA and the PNP carry out to counter narcotrafficking?
Gen. Gómez de la Torre: Our positive results would not be possible without our integration with the PNP and the coordination of State agencies, such as the National Commission for Development and Life without Drugs and the National Superintendency of Customs and Tax Administration, among others. In turn, the operational commands hold meetings with their counterparts from Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil, and Bolivia, respectively, who are responsible for the common border area, and exchange military and police intelligence about national organizations with international links that engage in illicit drug trafficking and other threats.
Diálogo: What is the contribution of the experience of the FFAA in United Nations peacekeeping operations?
Gen. Gómez de la Torre: Our military personnel have been deployed since 1958 to contribute to peacekeeping operations. We currently participate in the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic, known as MINUSCA, which conducts airfield construction and maintenance work and, to respond to the mission’s needs, collaborates with the repair and maintenance of roads and bridges. There, we have 13 staff officers and 18 military observers, 33 percent of whom are women, and we have an engineering company of 204 members, 10 percent of whom are women.