Peruvian Army modernizes to confront asymmetric threats and drug trafficking

Peruvian Army modernizes to confront asymmetric threats and drug trafficking

By Dialogo
March 03, 2014

Peruvian President Ollanta Humala, acknowledges that an old threat, which many considered extinct, has returned in recent years: the terrorist organization Shining Path, whose former goal in the 1980s was to replace the government by means of violence. According to the Peruvian government, there are hundreds - maybe thousands - of rebels that are centralized in the Apurímac, Ene and Mantaro Rivers Valley (VRAEM), with the aim of protecting local drug traffickers and producing cocaine in the region.
To discuss this challenge, the fight against Shining Path, and other topics, Diálogo visited the Peruvian Army Commander, General Ricardo Moncada Novoa, in Lima. Until he assumed this post in 2010, Gen. Moncada served as Commander General of the Army for the VRAEM region, Commander General of the Special Operations Intelligence Command and General Inspector of the Army.

Diálogo: Have there been any changes to the training of future officers of the Peruvian Army as a consequence of the new role of the Armed Forces in the fight against asymmetrical threats and drug trafficking?

General Ricardo Moncada: Due to changes worldwide, the wars, conflicts and battles have changed dramatically, which made our Armed Forces adapt by urgently introducing doctrine, strategies, culture and necessary changes in their organization to perform according to the demands of these new scenarios. It is true that technology plays an important role in the new context of war, but it is not the only one. Information, intelligence, knowledge, as well as cognitive and attitudinal aspects also play a crucial role. Consequently, as future Army officers need to be properly trained, the need for an educational reform arose, to restructure our technology, culture, logistics and doctrine in accordance to the new ways of conducting war, conflicts and battles. Such reform has involved making necessary changes in the syllabi of the Army’s schools; for instance, at the EMCH [Escuela Militar de Chorrillos del Ejército de Perú] it was necessary to modify the curriculum: from training an order-based command officer into a mission-based command officer because, according to our current state of affairs and hypothesis about the future, we will need an officer not only capable of following orders, but also equipped with critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Moreover, we need an officer trained in real scenarios, namely: jungle courses, mountain training, etc. We need officers not only capable of analyzing preset strategies, but who also have the capacity for different and changing scenarios. Asymmetric wars, confronting new threats and emerging risks involve transmitting to the EMCH-trained officers the basis for managing new strategies, the anticipated thinking of what will be executed mid and long term, as well as the capabilities for research and solving problems that they will be facing. [This means] training them to handle new technology, strategic planning and process organization, the critical internalization of constitutional legislation and human rights. Hence, permanent interaction with human groups implies the need for analytical and critical management of constitutional law and human rights. On the other hand, it requires training to include technology in special operations and building smaller and more efficient operational units. New forms of organization must be less vertical and follow a more horizontal, more flexible pattern, so that receiving an order involves deciding the best strategies for its execution. All this process is currently enforced and represents changes that the Army has been executing in order to confront the new, asymmetrical threats and emerging risks.

Diálogo: In addition to the fight against the Shining Path’s narco-terrorists, what are the current goals and priorities for the Peruvian Army, with regard to security and preparedness of the military forces?

General Moncada: When I took over the command of the Institution, I established two essential pillars and I became committed to achieving objectives and goals set in our Plan of Institutional Development or “Plan Bolognesi,” which is the cornerstone of our actions. The first pillar is training: this requires the most careful planning for the most sound, professional and strict training for all our military personnel, either active or reserve, as the necessary basis for strengthening the capabilities that the operational force must have in order to perform appropriately when we are called upon to participate. Personnel should be in perfect physical, technical and tactical conditions and must be capable of confronting missions that will be assigned to the land component in different operational commands.
The second pillar is the operations’ administrative support, which demands the most detailed planning by the staff, as well as the execution of supply and maintenance plans. In addition, it demands commitment, dedication and efficiency to fulfill this goal. We must understand that due to our rugged natural scenarios, we need to establish systems that will allow for the logistic sustainment for the combatant.

Diálogo: Peru is an example for other countries in terms of their participation in peacekeeping missions. Are there any training courses for officers in this type of task?

General Moncada: Through the Joint Training Center for Peacekeeping Operations (CECOPAZ), the Ministry of Defense designs courses for military observers and military personnel that are members of the “PERU” Infantry Company before their deployment to Haiti. Likewise, the Army has participated in regional joint combined exercises UNASUR I, II and III for peacekeeping operations since 2011, conducted in Argentina (the exercise is based on the performance of a peacekeeping force in support and assistance to the population of a fictitious country).

Diálogo: What missions are you currently involved in?

General Moncada: Currently, the Peruvian Army is participating with military personnel in different United Nations Peacekeeping Missions, including the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), with the participation of four officers in the STAFF and the Infantry Company "PERÚ"; the United Nations Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), with the participation of six officers; the African Union/United Nations Hybrid operation in Darfur (UNAMID), with the participation of three officers; the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA), with the participation of one officer; United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), with the participation of two officers; and the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO), with the participation of one officer.

Diálogo: How is the Peruvian Army contributing to the objectives of social inclusion that the government is implementing in the country?

General Moncada: The Army's participation is mainly directed to executing land infrastructure projects, as well as the development of projects to support the community, rural border settlement projects, civic action and environmental protection projects. For this purpose, it uses all the components of its organizational structure, with the Engineering Units having most of the participation in those. Seven agreements were signed in 2012, while nine interagency agreements were signed in 2013 between the Ministry of Defense and the Army and the Ministry of Housing, Construction and Sanitation, with the regional governments of Junín, Pasco and Ayacucho, as well as with the municipalities of Ica, Pisco, Túpac Amaru Inca, San Clemente and Chincha.

Diálogo: How is the Army planning to modernize and train its personnel in the long term?

General Moncada: During my command, we have carried on with the Institutional Plan, which initially is a mid-term program. To that end, we seek to extend our Army's existing capabilities within the Modernization Plan. We have extended the access of our personnel to instruction and training courses, as well as university and professional courses. The idea is to create a critical basis to establish the development of our institution in unison and integrated to the country and its development. At the same time that we are increasing the military education of our soldiers and personnel, we have also emphasized their training, so that when they leave the voluntary military service and are reintegrated into society, they have some technical knowledge and are capable of getting a job in the short term. In some cases, due to agreements with State institutions, our soldiers join other security tasks, such as the National Penitentiary Institute (INPE), or they continue their university studies or technical courses, with the Beca 18 program, totally free of charge.
With the "Presidente de la República" scholarship program, our officers enroll in comprehensive master’s and doctorate level courses at the best universities in the world, something beneficial for our institution. However, in spite of our progress in the quest for modernizing the Army in terms of materials, administrative support and operational force, we know that we must go beyond, as a result of a constant evaluation. We are aware that the second strategic step is the transformation of the Land Force. This entails breaking with several paradigms; changing our vision and mission, adding new tactical missions and new roles in the battlefield. That's why it is important to make our force more professional with high quality and efficiency standards, in order to be a part of this new context in the 21st century.
Greeting to the Peruvian soldiers, please finish off those damned communist of Sendero and wipe all the leftists from the face of the earth. They are the wretched ones who set brother against brother and they are still celebrated, just like the chupacabras Fidel and the rat Raulin are celebrated. What if it was Pinochet, Strossner and other right-wing military people, they would certainly be killed since they are viewed as a curse. But the writers, philosophers, poets, journalists, singers and others don't even touch the chupacabras Fidel and the rat Raulin. ....because they are the favorites of the left wing .......assholes. This General is a clown. How is it possible that he can't do anything so that this useless government finally replace the old tanks we have. The war materials we have are a bunch of junk and this guy comes here to tell these us stories. Unbelievable. The structure of an army is different in cost, instruction, training and range when it is geared towards offense or defense. Peru is a country of too many shortages to be able to afford an army of more than 100000 soldiers. The message is encouraging but priority should be given to consideration of urban terrorism, which is backed by technical statistics about the crimes committed by assassins, one of the worst scourges imported from Mexico and Colombia and which is now terrorizing the city and even the rural communities. Re-instate the Death Penalty, completely reform the judicial system and eliminate suit and tie corruption. I think that, just as the levels of preparation and specialization are being broadened and elevated for the staff of the Armed Forces, it is also necessary that the State invest in shops, trial labs, instruments, equipment, tools, etc.. This will allow this group of specialized professionals to apply, develop, implement and expand the acquired knowledge, then put it into practice so that later - with Effort, Dedication, Will, Conviction and Love for our Homeland - they can generate Sciences and Technologies that will help us (sooner than later) achieve a TRUE NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT.
It'd be more interesting also to assess the feasibility of creating a "City of Science & Technology" (to call it by some name) that contains ideal buildings for each area and specialty, and install all the necessary material for the optimal performance and development of the scientific and technology staff, as well as facilitate the execution of projects that may and should be taking place there, in all their stages. This great complex should also have ample areas intended for the development of dwellings, green and recreational areas to house all these brilliant minds that will forge a free, prosperous, rich, strong, sovereign country that shows solidarity to the other nations and people of the world.