The recent counter-terrorism training was the latest chapter of cooperation between the Militaries of Uruguay and the United States that has spanned over 40 years.
Soldiers from the Special Anti-terrorist Company (CEAT) of the Uruguayan Army’s Airborne Infantry Battalion 14 recently participated in a cooperation exchange on counter-terrorism tactics with the U.S. Army’s 7th Special Forces Group in Montevideo. The exchange, which was conducted from November 9th-13th, was part of CEAT’s Annual Training Program and allowed personnel to share experiences regarding critical counter-terrorism situations, planning, and logistics.
“This exchange of experts that lasted five days was about tactics and techniques on how to take hostages from the hands of terrorists, how to deal with a scenario of terrorism, such as hostage-taking in a building,” said U.S. Army Major Gabriel E. Caminero, Bilateral Affairs Officer at the Office of Security Cooperation at the U.S. Embassy in Montevideo. “In the drills, they practiced different ways to enter a building, an apartment, or a house, and the procedures to ensure a safer entry way.”
CEAT Commander, Captain Ricardo Saavedra, as well as leaders from the assault and sniper teams, established common criteria for these types of counter-terrorism operations and joint assault techniques. During the cooperation exchange, they conducted drills in demolitions, use of weapons, communications, and providing emergency medical care.
In Uruguay, “the CEAT is the only Company in the Armed Forces with the capacity and assigned mission for this type of training,” Capt. Saavedra told Diálogo.
“The reputation of the CEAT since its inception has been the reason behind the exchange programs with the 7th Group.”
Long history of cooperation and coordination
Although cooperation exchanges between the Uruguayan Military and U.S. Special Forces first occurred in the South American nation 40 years ago, the event in November was the first between the countries in five years, according to Capt. Saavedra.
“In 1976, the 7th Group sent ‘A’ Detachments for the first time to provide parachute training, and starting in 1987, they began to carry out exchange programs for counter-terrorism training,” Capt. Saavedra added.
Maj. Caminero said the “exchange of experts is part of the agreements of cooperation to address common threats. Joint training operations benefit both the Uruguayan U.S. armed forces. This is an important area not only for the (United States) Southern Command, but it is also one of the most important areas for the government of Uruguay. It is important to resume exchanges between the two countries.”
“It is obvious that the 7th Special Forces Group operates at a very high level,” Capt. Saavedra said. “They share with us a lot of their experiences fighting in Afghanistan. Their techniques, tactics, and procedures are based on years of combat. It is clear that they bring techniques that are new to us, and this allows us to update ourselves in certain aspects. It also allows us to strengthen ties with other armies because the shared experience of military training generates camaraderie and trust at all levels of command. People learn from training and come away with new shared experiences, whomever they train with.”
The Uruguayan and U.S. Special Forces Troops use similar tactics. “The CEAT’s techniques were created based on U.S. doctrine, so it is hard for us to find many differences, although after almost 30 years we have developed our own,” Capt. Saavedra explained. “They not only learn from our tactical and technical procedures. I believe they learned about the idiosyncrasies of the Uruguayan Soldier and how the spirit of sacrifice and selflessness is apparent during every day of instruction.”
Praise for Uruguayan Special Forces
The U.S. Special Forces Troops participating in the cooperation exchange were impressed with their Uruguayan counterparts. The CEAT has displayed its excellence at the annual Fuerzas Comando, a U.S. Southern Command-sponsored military skills competition between military and police Special Operations teams from the Western Hemisphere. Uruguay had a third-place finish among 19 countries in 2015, after placing third in 2012 and second in 2008.
“We learned the Uruguayan group is very prepared, very professional, and has a very good level of training,” Maj. Caminero said. “Working together is extremely important because anything can happen in Uruguay and the United States, and [in that case] there would be need of mutual support. We know that Uruguayans train very similarly to us.”
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