Special Forces from Peru, U.S. Strengthen Ties through Joint Exercise

Special Forces from Peru, U.S. Strengthen Ties through Joint Exercise

By Dialogo
December 18, 2015

The Peruvian Air Force's (FAP) Special Forces Group and their counterparts from the U.S. Air Force (USAF) participated in a joint training operation at the 2nd Air Wing’s Command School in the Peruvian district of Vítor, Arequipa. Beginning on November 5th, both squadrons held three land and air shows showcasing maneuvers for local and national journalists.

The Air Forces conducted a variety of military drills, including humanitarian relief exercises, medevacs, simulated rescues of injured personnel; mock airlifts to replenish supplies; and first response combat exercises.

“This joint exercise and the exchange of experiences have benefited us greatly,” Colonel Julio César Tizón Basurto, the director of the FAP's Commando School, told Diálogo. “
They [USAF] have also learned things from us, such as how we have been fighting our internal battles against terrorism and drug trafficking and how we have rescued people during natural disasters and airplane crashes.”

A major portion of the training program focused on preparing Peru for potential natural disasters that could be caused by the El Niño weather system, which in the past has caused torrential rains and massive flooding. The exercise was coordinated through the Military Assistance and Advisory Group in Lima and U.S. Special Operations Command South.

“This joint exercise should improve the Peruvian Air Force's ability to respond to El Niño's potential flooding,” explained U.S. Army 1st Lieutenant Kevin Bowman, the Special Operations Liaison Officer for the United States. “Specifically, the joint parachute resupply techniques practiced during this exercise should serve the Peruvian local population well if the Peruvian Air Force is called upon to act. Also, the review of air-to-ground rescue techniques was also indispensable and will help tremendously if El Niño strikes.”

A diverse training program

While much of the joint training consisted of humanitarian relief exercises to prepare service members to help civilians in a natural disaster situation, the FAP and USAF also conducted tactical drills, such as military airborne free-fall operations, jungle ground patrol techniques, and call-for-fire operations. Peru's Special Operations unit also simulated a hostage situation in which they freed hostages held by terrorists on a bus – a type of rescue that's part of the Special Forces' curriculum.

"When an international delegation comes to visit us, we strive to make them feel the impact of our military cooperation," Col. Tizón Basurto said. "We have the ability to respond to terrorist threats and to vehicle hijackings."

The exercise's first stage involved a tactical demonstration, during which service members used the fast-rope. Next, service members conducted a simulated medical evacuation and a mock injured personnel rescue mission using the Special Purpose Insertion/Extraction (SPIE) method. Troops then participated in airlift resupply drills before completing the exercise with a tactical rescue from a multipurpose tower.

Strengthening cooperation

“These exercises are critical because they allow both nations and their military forces to develop a common bond and build valuable personal relationships that should last well beyond the exercise itself,” 1st Lt. Bowman said. “The benefit to the USAF comes via the improvement in Spanish language capability and the opportunity to exercise the deployment process, and the deployment facilitates better cultural understanding of our Peruvian counterparts."

During maneuvers, Peruvian forces conducted practice air-to-ground rescues from military helicopters, which will be “a fundamental tool used when responding to the emergencies that come as a consequence of the imminent El Niño phenomenon,” FAP General Juan Velásquez explained. “The qualified personnel available for these tasks are the products of training and hard work.”

The training program helped service members from both countries and deepened cooperative ties. “Both forces were able to gain greater understanding of each other's professional, personal, and cultural habits and practices,” 1st Lt. Bowman added. “This level of understanding can only be achieved through these types of face-to-face interactions, cooperation, and collaboration between members of both countries.”