Major Andrea de los Santos was appointed second in command of the Army’s General Headquarters and is in charge of a 182-member Troop.
For the first time in its history, the Uruguayan National Army has appointed a female to a command post: Major Andrea de los Santos, who is in charge of 182 Soldiers. Her appointment as the Second Commander of the Uruguayan Army’s General Headquarters under Lieutenant Colonel José Ávila on January 12th is part of the country’s efforts to add more female Troops and provide them with career opportunities.
“The Commander General of the Army is proud that women are reaching such heights in the Army, which, in this case, includes taking on the position of second in command,” said Colonel Yamandú Lessa, Chief of the Uruguayan Army’s Communications Department, in an interview with Diálogo
. “Since she is the first woman to assume a command position, her appointment marks a milestone in the Uruguayan Army.”
Maj. de los Santos is well-prepared for her command assignment. She graduated from the Uruguayan Military Academy in 2001 before serving in the General L. Olivera Mechanized Infantry Battalion #12 as the Anti-Tank Section Chief. Maj. de los Santos has also served in the Military Academy as a Preparatory Course instructor for the Armored Infantry Battalion #13; in the K-9 Operations Group; in the Army’s Military Working Dog Instruction Center; in the Mechanized Infantry Battalion #15; and in the Infantry Brigade #1.
To broaden her knowledge and deepen her skills, Maj. de los Santos has participated in training overseas. She engaged in Anti-Terrorist Courses (Levels I and II) in Texas, and took a course on the certification of binomials, which are used in algebra, in Florianópolis, Brazil. She also participated in the humanitarian mission in Haiti after a 2010 earthquake devastated the Caribbean nation.
In her new post, Maj. de los Santos supports the Command of the Uruguayan Army’s Headquarters in the administration of personnel and resources, such as vehicles, weapons, and ammunition, in addition to being responsible for training and preparing her personnel. “The challenges are the same for both men and women,” Col. Lessa explained. “Her primary challenge is to successfully lead the activities that are assigned to the unit – from training activities to whichever missions they are charged with completing.”
A Military pioneer
Maj. de los Santos is honored by the appointment. “It has been somewhat of a pioneering endeavor since the beginning. When I entered the Military Academy, I kept setting goals for myself: become the Section Chief or the Company Commander,” she said upon assuming her post. “Now, occupying a command post is a privilege for me. In the Army, the role of women is the same as that of men, and [women] are becoming more and more integrated in the Army’s activities and are trained to perform the same functions. The Army is part of society.”
About 25 percent of the Uruguayan Armed Forces’ 22,500 service members are female. “[The Army] is one of the state’s most inclusive institutions, since there are no quotas in terms of sex for the distribution of vacancies,” Maj. de los Santos told Diálogo
. “Thus, men and women can integrate in a way that is egalitarian throughout all the specialties, courses, and weapons that the Army provides.”
Since January, 55 of the 200 applications (27.5 percent) received by the Military Academy were from females. The Armed Forces, which encourages women to enlist, offers opportunities to enter the Army not only by entering the Military Academy but also through the General Artigas Military School and other formation centers that provide training in numerous specialties, according to the Uruguayan Army.
Opportunities for women
Currently, 151 of the 1,446 officers in the Uruguayan Army’s Command Corps are women. Of the nearly 13,000 service members in the Combatant Corp’s junior staff, 1,780 are women, Maj. de los Santos noted. The Uruguayan Army began to fully integrate women as voluntary Troops in 1998.
“Day by day, we have more female officers achieving the status of ‘chief,’ and the fact that the upper ranks do not distinguish between who is a woman and who is a man is important and also an incentive for us,” Uruguayan Army First Lieutenant Alexandra Caballero stated during an interview on the TV program Buen Día, Uruguay
( Good Day, Uruguay
) on January 27th. “When one gives orders as a woman, [it is vital] that she not be questioned.”
The Armed Forces’ other branches have also provided leadership opportunities for female officers. For example, in 2015 the Air Force placed Lieutenant Colonel María Eugenia Etcheverry in command of a flight wing, in addition to heading a liaison squadron of more than 20 officers headquartered in the department of Durazno.
Navy Lieutenant Florencia Martínez is Chief of Arms on the Uruguayan Frigate ROU 01. The vessel has portable weapons and two batteries of 6mm and 40mm artillery cannons, El País
reported. In case of a confrontation, Lt. Martínez would give the order to fire after receiving directions from the ship’s commander.
Uruguayans confident in country’s Armed Forces
All Uruguayan Armed Forces posts are open to women. Seventy percent of Army Cadets agreed that females should be allowed to enroll in the Military Academy, according to a study accessed through the weekly Uruguayan website Búsqueda
The level of confidence that Uruguayans have in their Armed Forces reached 53 percent in 2015, according to the Latin American public opinion study “Latinobarómetro”. The annual survey by a team of consultants is conducted in 18 countries, according to the Uruguayan Defense Ministry’s website.
“The members of the Army have the capability to plan, prepare, and work together as a team,” Col. Lessa said. “The result is that each member of that team properly fulfills its role – men and women, and the success that the Military units have stems from this fact.”
The report on military women is great. How interesting by a person who is licensed