The leader of U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) has reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to continue working “shoulder to shoulder” with the Salvadoran Armed Forces (FAES) in the fight against the violence generated by gangs and narco-trafficking.
“We will work together and share the best practices and information to tackle problems together, because no country in North America or South America has the ability to work on their own,” Admiral Kurt W. Tidd, SOUTHCOM's commander, said during a visit to El Salvador on February 25th. “We all have to work together.”
His words inspired confidence and encouragement among the FAES, whose Soldiers are patrolling streets and neighborhoods throughout the country to fight gangs and improve security. “The Southern Command has always provided us with resources and personnel to strengthen capacities in different areas,” stated Major General Félix Núñez, Chairman of the FAES's Joint Chiefs of Staff. “At this time, the continuity of that support will protect our forces as they continue to support the safety of the population.”
Salvadoran Troops are working diligently to reduce violence. From January 1st to March 13th, more than 1,680 Salvadorans – an average of 23 a day – were killed in violent acts. To deal with this challenge, the FAES is providing rigorous training to experienced Soldiers to prepare them to confront the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and Barrio 18 (M-18) gangs, as well as other gang factions.
Many of these training programs were conducted by SOUTHCOM at the Regional Training Center Against Transnational Organized Crime (CRACCT) – a space designed specifically to share the most successful strategies against drug trafficking, money laundering, gang activity, and other criminal actions. “Admiral Tidd expressed his intention to further strengthen the capabilities of CRACCT, where we are training our units to combat criminal organizations formed by gangs,” Maj. Gen. Núñez explained.
Admiral Tidd honors Salvadoran Troops
The Salvadoran Military has improved its capabilities for conducting overseas peacekeeping missions by building a modern training complex at the Peacekeeping Operations Center. The facility was funded with a $1.3 million grant from the U.S. Department of State’s Global Peace Operations Initiative (GPOI). The GPOI, which is sponsored by SOUTHCOM, is an assistance program designed to improve international capacity to effectively carry out the United Nations Peacekeeping Operations.
Currently, the FAES supports missions with three peacekeeping contingents: the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti, and the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali. The FAES is collectively represented in these operations by more than 175 Military members, including officers, non-commissioned officers, Troops, and administrative staff.
“We thank SOUTHCOM for their unconditional support in equipping and training contingents each year to join peace operations, increasing our professionalism and increasing our capacity to continue this effort to maintain global security,” Maj. Gen. Núñez added.
The FAES also thanked Adm. Tidd for the arrival of the hospital ship USNS Comfort in April 2015 at the Port of Alajuela. Medical specialists from various branches of the U.S. Military descended from the ship for two weeks to conduct an extensive and long-awaited medical campaign, providing consultations to 12,000 Salvadorans and performing 100 surgeries.