Salvadoran Army Trains Rescue Teams on Computer Simulators
By Dialogo June 19, 2015
El Salvador Armed Forces (FAES) service members are using new technology to train for natural disasters and other emergencies when civilians rely on them for help: the Computerized Tactical Training Center (CETAC), which recreates realistic scenarios through precise mathematical models and complex calculations based on Salvadoran cartography.
In particular, the country's rainy winters bring with them the frequent threat of flooding, creating dangerous, chaotic situations that the FAES needs to prepare for beforehand. That's where the simulations created by CETAC, like one that took place in mid-May, prove their value.
“From May 11-14, our officers participated in a simulation of a flood at the lower end of the Lempa River, covering the Departments of San Vicente and Usulután, where there are several communities that required assistance from our units and rescue teams,” said Colonel Mario Córdova Arriola, Coordinator of the FAES Logistics Sector Technical Committee.
In that simulation, the flooding was caused by a storm, and the situation was elevated to red alert to provide FAES service members the opportunity to practice efficient and effective decision-making. The exercise allowed the participants to exercise judgment and evaluate a variety of pertinent elements to apply solutions.
“In this training, we were able to plan responses and that lets us practice before a real emergency happens,” said Second Lieutenant Katerine Rodríguez, one of the participants in the exercise. “This way, we can react better and identify all the resources from FAES and other institutions to assist the population.”
Lieutenant Commander Humberto Samayoa, another Officer participating in the training, noted the operational readiness and professionalism of the Military Rescue Brigades, who are committed to serving civilians.
“The civilian population expects results from us ... to take immediate action in this sort of situation, which can happen at any moment, especially now, when we are in the rainy season. The exercises complement the experiences we have had on the ground.”
A regional vision
CETAC, which is is located in a modern building at the Doctrine and Military Education Command (CODEM), has the capacity to simultaneously train two teams of 36 service members each.
The FAES acquired its technological tools in 1995 from the Chilean Army’s Manufacturers and Armory (FAMAE); however, it had to develop modifications to the system to adjust it to local needs after the 2001 earthquakes changed the country’s geography and damaged its highway system.
“The simulators can be programmed for a variety of purposes, such as installation of bridges or repairs to obstructed roadways, as well as tracking statistical controls of available human resources and the materials used during the exercise,” Colonel Córdova Arriola said.
Such simulations -- where factors such as environment, time, threats, Troop deployment, resources and terrain can be controlled – reduce FAES operating costs compared to doing the simulation with real resources.
The new CETAC director, Colonel Jaime Ruiz Chávez, hopes to conduct the exercises with teams of Officers from the region through the Central American Armed Forces Conference (CFAC).
“This unit enjoys international prestige and we want to place it at the service of the region,” he said. “Therefore, we are going to work on improving the simulator, including maps of Central America, so that we can conduct these exercises with Military units from allied nations.”