Admiral Alberto Alcalá Luna assumed command of the Peruvian Navy on August 3, 2021. Since then, his mission has beento ensure the defense of Peru’s seas, rivers,and lakes.
Adm. Alcalá spoke with Diálogo about the Navy’s institutional advances in the fight against criminal organizations, illegal mining, as well as its technological advances, among other topics.
Diálogo: How does the Navy contribute to the national effort against illegal criminal organizations?
Admiral Alberto Alcalá Luna, commander of the Peruvian Navy: The Peruvian Navy, through the General Directorate of Captaincies and Coast Guard (DICAPI), which is the maritime authority and national coast guard, has been able to confront the different existing threats, with forward-looking approaches aimed at maximizing surveillance and control, safety of human life, protection of the environment, and the repression of illegal activities; for which our personnel and coast guard units are in constant training and operational deployment.
Today’s satellite technology and digital tools make it possible to control commercial maritime movements in the national maritime environment. In this regard, the National Maritime Authority permanently monitors the national maritime scene, assuming international responsibility for search and rescue cases up to 3,000 nautical miles.
Similarly, in the Amazon, the Peruvian National Police participates in areas declared as state of emergency (Putumayo and Mariscal Ramón Castilla provinces in the Loreto region) in strict compliance and respect for human rights.
Likewise, in the Apurímac, Ene, and Mantaro Rivers Valley (VRAEM), we’ve been fighting to strengthen national peace, contribute to the social development of the community through coordinated actions with local authorities, thus bringing the presence of the State to vulnerable populations.
Diálogo: The Navy’s operations have dealt hard blows in the fight against illegal mining. How do you achieve success in these operations?
Adm. Alcalá: The Attorney General’sOffice, the Peruvian National Police, and DICAPI, within the scope of their competencies, carry out independent and coordinated interdictions to reduce the presence of groups that carry out this illegal activity and affect the ecosystem.
DICAPI is in charge of the Coast Guard Operations Command, which is responsible for developing operations against illegal mining in coordination with captaincy and port captaincy district chiefs.
Illegal mining has become a very lucrative activity for these criminal groups, as suchit is crucial to reinforce financial intelligence operations to monitor money laundering, and to continue theimplementation of strict legislation to prosecute individuals and organizations linked to illegal mining. The success of the operations is a reflection of the continuousstrengthening of surveillance and control systems in the rivers where this illegal activity takes place, which represents a daily challenge for patrols in the Peruvian Amazon where we engage with representatives of other sectors. It is very important to protect these areas with programs for alternative development and recovery of ecosystems that prevent them from being affected by illegal extractive activities.
Diálogo: Peru has about 14,000 kilometers of navigable rivers and almost 3,000 kilometers of river border between Brazil and Colombia. How do you patrol these borders to stop the actions of illegal groups?
Adm. Alcala: In the Amazon, the Peruvian Navy patrols and controls the border by means of river interdiction boats assigned to the four naval detachments under the Amazon Operations General Command. There are also river control posts and units under the National Maritime Authority that control and stopillegal activities. The Armed Forces’ Joint Command, through the Naval component of the Amazon Operational Command, has the Border Surveillance System, which establishes means and measures for river control of vessels and people, allowing inspection and identification of illegal activities on the Putumayo River, Amazon River, and tributaries.
Diálogo: What kind of training and joint operations do you carry out with the United States?
Adm. Alcalá: The main joint exercises being conducted with the U.S. Navy are:
– UNITAS: The oldest continuous naval exercise in the world, where naval assetsand personnel from navies of the Americas come together, demonstrating their naval warfare capabilities.
– RIMPAC: The exercise is carried out biannually, has a worldwide scope, and demands a high level of readiness and interoperability from participants.
– SIFOREX: It’s an exercise with the participation of submarine units and naval platforms with both countries’ anti-submarine capabilities, in which anti-submarine warfare interaction is emphasized.
– SUBDIEX: It’s an exercise carried out with units of the U.S. Navy and of the Peruvian Submarine Force.
– SOLIDAREX: This is a multinational amphibious humanitarian relief operations exercise, which also includes the participation of assets and personnel from the navies of Ecuador, Colombia, and Mexico.
– PANAMAX: This is an exercise planned annually by U.S. Southern Command, with the participation of countries of the region.
Diálogo: What technological innovations does the Center for Scientific Research and Technological Development have?
Adm. Alcalá: The Peruvian Navy has been promoting scientific activity, which is why since 2020 the Scientific Research and Technological Development Directorate (DINCYDET) has been in operation, which manages this activity together with the operational forces to increase their capabilities, based on the modernization of equipment and the development of new systems that allow us to reduce the technological gap.
Within the current developments, the emblematic projects are the automation of surface units’ engineering systems, development of the tactical data link system, and continuous updating of our combat management system. We are also carrying out scientific research for future projects aimed at increasing our missile capability and implementing artificial intelligence techniques.
Regarding these research, development,and innovation activities, as a completed project we have the Varayoc project, a combat management system that replaced the original system of the Lupo class missile frigates, allowing the development of a Command and Control system, which integrates the sensors and weapons of a missile frigate and allows sharing resources through a link to transmitinformation between units. To test theproject, during UNITAS 2021, the missile frigate B.A.P. Bolognesi (FM-57) fired, for the first time and with resounding success,the anti-ship missile MBDA MM-40 Block III Exocet against a target, in this case the former B.A.P. Callao (DT-143) landing ship, located about 170 kilometers away, the longest distance reached in similar exercises in the Americas.
Another completed project is the Kallpa Project, which refers to the design and implementation of a combat system, integrated through the development of a sonar, fire control system, plotting system in the command and control table for submarine units, receiving information from the various sensors and electrical equipment, which are part of the type 209 submarines’ modernization; this system fuses the sonar data to present them in the plotting system and provides data to the fire control system.
Diálogo: What progress has the Navy made in terms of inclusion and equality?
Adm. Alcalá: The Peruvian Navy promotes concrete actions to reduce the gaps and promote a culture of inclusion and equality, aligning ourselves with state regulations and policies.
Historically, the incorporation of women in the Peruvian Navy began with the active military service, established by Decree Law 20788 of November 12, 1974. Subsequently, women were allowed access to the Armed Forces’ officers and noncommissioned officers schools with the enactment of Law 26628 of June 20, 1996. Since then, there have been female professional and technical personnel in the institution, assuming positions with equal opportunities as male personnel, thus promoting the beginning of a culture of equality based on meritocracy.
On the other hand, through Resolution No. 0652-2020 of October 30, 2020, the Navy’s General Command created the Gender Equality Committee.
We have regulations, provisions, and procedures for the prevention, investigation, and sanction of sexual harassment and there are regulations for the management of lactation rooms; regulations that contribute to the consolidation of family life and work of our female personnel, encouraging their continued participation in the workplace.
Diálogo: How does the Navy strengthen its capabilities in information operations to counteract disinformation and fake newsthat delegitimize the public force in its actions?
Adm. Alcalá: The Peruvian Navy, through its Information Directorate, continuously develops a set of communication strategies aimed at protecting its identity (functions, roles, values, principles, among others), which generates trust and maintains a high reputation among the population, which is fundamental to safeguard the institutional image, when people seek to affect it.
Likewise, counteracting disinformation and fake news requires a timely and effective response, for which the Navy directs its efforts to maintain and increase the following capabilities:
– Permanent monitoring of media and detractors to detect possible negative publications that could escalate into a crisis.
– Sentiment analysis on social networks to define the target audience and to develop the response communication strategy.
– Risk management (procedures and guidelines) duly internalized and with training from all participating actors.
– Spokespersons previously selected, according to the required area of knowledge and “soft” skills and trained to respond assertively to the media and public opinion.
– Robust external institutional channels (social networks, website, podcast), which implies having an adequate number of loyal followers, capable of echoing the institutional response, in quantity and quality.
– Close relationship with the media, which can retransmit, according to the institutional need, the required response message.
– Properly identified and updated promoters, so that they are invited to participate in the institutional effort as an external vector of response.