U.S. SEALs Train Peruvian Navy Commandos
By Julieta Pelcastre/Diálogo August 23, 2017Nine members of the U.S. Navy Special Operations Force, together with 48 elite commandos from the Peruvian Navy (MGP, per its Spanish acronym), will conduct Joint Combined Exchange Training (JCET) to bolster their response to the fight against criminal networks. As part of the cooperation between the governments of the United States and Peru, and the Peruvian Armed Forces’ 2017 operational activities program with foreign militaries, highly trained and qualified elite commandos from both countries are conducting a combined training plan on the island of Isla San Lorenzo, Peru, from July 14th to September 13th. “The training objective is to develop and improve the operational capabilities of our special operations squads in their maritime duties,” Commander Ricardo Devoto Gagliardi, the commander of the MGP’s Special Operations Group No. 1, told Diálogo. “They are going to contribute to the nation’s security, to maintaining order domestically, and supporting the government’s strategic policies.” Members of an elite U.S. Navy SEAL team and the MGP’s Special Operations Force (FOES, per its Spanish acronym), together with their respective equipment, arms, and munitions, are training on combat abilities and techniques in four operational areas: direct action, special reconnaissance, explosives deactivation, and coastal combat. The goal is to be ready at all times to carry out the most difficult missions effectively. Within the direct action phase, the SEALs evaluated FOES warriors in their maritime interdiction operations and in urban combat operations, which includes rescuing hostages, searching facilities, and urban sniper tactics. Additionally, they are sharing their knowledge and experience in amphibious assault operations and the use of tactical divers. In the military exercises linked to the special reconnaissance phase, Peruvian Navy combatants are taught the techniques of camouflage, stealth, and lying in wait, as well as information techniques, human connection, and how to transmit combat intelligence. Training is conducted using next generation arms and equipment. During the amphibious part of JCET, special operations squadrons exchange and master their skills of reconnaissance, identification, and IED handling. Similarly, the elite U.S. units contribute to developing the Peruvian soldiers’ capabilities in searches and attacks, high-mobility stealth deployments, and maritime exploration duties in support of coastal combat. “Through this training, MGP will have more capacity and be better prepared to participate in strategic operations against terrorists, transnational threats, and other illegal activities,” Cmdr. Devoto commented. “Definitely, this cooperation contributes to strengthening international relations, especially with the U.S. Navy.” “The level of cooperation between both navies is excellent,” Jorge Serrano, a founding partner of the security consultancy Spartan Consulting Group in Peru, told Diálogo. “Thanks to this fruitful relationship, Peru’s elite corps benefits from the capabilities of the best-trained force in the world through combined exercises.” The Peruvian Navy FOES were established in 1980. Since then, they have been carrying out duties such as long-range infiltration on land, in the air, and at sea, from submarines and other vessels of various sizes, to missions via air transport, reconnaissance and demolition operations, ambushes, counterinsurgency operations in rural and urban areas, and blowing up obstacles on land and at sea. Results of JCET training Cmdr. Devoto stressed that, since its creation, the MGP’s FOES have interacted with members of U.S. Navy special operations. Since 2013, both military institutions have conducted frequent joint training. “FOES and the U.S. Navy carried out a JCET between February and March of 2017,” he said. “This was meant to train the special operations soldiers deployed on strategic missions in VRAEM [Apurímac, Ene, and Mantaro River Valley, per its Spanish acronym] in the month of May.” VRAEM is a large, hostile zone that is considered to be the center of gravity for the remaining members of the the narco-terrorist group Shining Path. “Lately, JCET exercises are being held in the same theater of operations where Shining Path terrorists and drug trafficking mafias are holed up, in order to yield benefits at the strategic level and add to these complex military tasks,” Serrano indicated. “In military strategy, there is no such thing as a coincidence.” According to Cmdr. Devoto, the MGP’s two special operations squadrons, trained during the first 2017 JCET, had a relevant role in the capture of a fugitive drug trafficker during an incursion into VRAEM. He was captured by a Peruvian Armed Forces team comprising Navy, Army, Air Force, and National Police personnel. “They [the squadrons] were deployed to undertake operations in VRAEM. For approximately 15 days they were in the VRAEM area, conducting continuous operations,” Cmdr. Devoto explained. “The operation was conducted away from the coast, and helicopters and special insertion techniques were used. The operation brought with it a set of technical and operational complications that were managed thanks to the training provided by the Americans.” Regional network to counter criminal threats Because the sea lanes are a zone where a large number of illicit activities such as drug trafficking occur, MGP is looking to interact not only with U.S. special forces but also with the elite units of other nations. The goal is to increase the existing ties of cooperation in the fight against these threats. Cmdr. Devoto indicated that the Peruvian Navy, together with the Colombian Navy’s Special Operations Force, is studying whether to build bridges between the two naval institutions and the U.S. Navy in order to move forward with tripartite activities. The end goal is to improve their channels of communication, increase training of special operations squadrons, and constitute a regional network to respond to transnational threats. “We work in rapidly changing settings against unconventional adversaries who are able to focus, emerge, act, show themselves, and later evade detection by state security forces. The best way to combat an illegal network is with another network, a regional network,” Cmdr. Devoto noted. “Just as it is important to train our Peruvian soldiers to raise their level of interoperability, and just as it is important to create a network to preserve security along the remote and isolated borders that Peru shares with Colombia, we must also have a better system of national intelligence,” Serrano added.