From September 27-October 1, about 1,100 Troops from the Argentine and Chilean Armed Forces participated in Cruz del Sur III, a bi-national training exercise to support future United Nations (UN) peacekeeping missions in which the two Militaries will work together cooperatively. It took place on the Puerto Belgrado Naval Base in Bahía Blanca, Argentina, under the direction of Major General Héctor Aníbal Ascazuri of the Argentine Air Force, with Chilean Navy Rear Admiral Jorge Rodríguez serving as co-director.
“The purpose of the training was to better prepare ourselves for future deployments of the Combined Peacekeeping Force (FPCC) of Cruz del Sur during peacekeeping missions and to test readiness levels of the Argentine and Chilean Armed Forces,” Maj. Gen. Ascazuri said in an interview with Diálogo.
Argentine Defense Minister Agustín Rossi, together with Chilean Minister of Defense José Antonio Gómez Urrutia, attended the training exercise's last phase.
“Argentina and Chile are dedicated to developing our Military forces by way of the United Nations to achieve peace wherever it is needed throughout the world,” Rossi told Télam , the Argentine national news agency.
“This is the first time that we have performed the exercise with all three branches of the Militaries from the two countries,” Maj. Gen. Ascazuri explained. “This is a unique training opportunity, and it allows us to test our interoperational abilities and to foster healthy and strong camaraderie.”
Hundreds of Troops engaged in multiple scenarios
To build a strong sense of teamwork, Cruz del Sur III, which authorities started planning in December 2014, combined nearly 700 Argentine Troops and 380 Chilean service members through six training scenarios.
“Military personnel from the two countries performed Naval, ground, and aerial maneuvers. They also received training in all of the following: medical evacuations; transportation of equipment and personnel; casualty assistance; convoy escorts; checkpoint operations; monitoring of roads with unpredictable conditions; embarkation, search, and retrieval of maritime vessels; and negotiation operations."
During the joint exercises, the Argentine Armed Forces deployed the Meko ARA Gómez Roca and the Punta Alta, both multipurpose boats, along with Bell 212 and Huey II helicopters. Chile also deployed the Marinero Fuentealba patrol vessel; Bell 412 and AS-532 helicopters; and heavy and light land vehicles.
“The exercises were performed with the approval of procedures whose techniques were brought in line with the norms established by the United Nations. All the exercises performed were relevant because not all personnel who participated had the appropriate amount of knowledge or experience with these types of procedures,” Maj. Gen. Ascazuri said.
The training program helped the countries' Troops sharpen their abilities to carry out the responsibilities of the FPCC Cruz del Sur, which includes providing a Military presence in a crisis following a UN Security Council resolution; preventing escalations of violence; assisting, monitoring, and facilitating ceasefires; providing safety to people whose lives are threatened by conflict; and administering general humanitarian assistance.
A group of Military reviewers evaluated the Troops' performance during the exercises, according to Defensa . The evaluators included two officers and one non-commissioned officer (NCO) from the Argentine Federal Police; a Chilean Navy officer; two officers and an NCO from the Brazilian Marines; an Argentine Naval NCO; a Paraguayan Army officer; two officers from the Argentine Air Force; and an officer and an NCO from the Chilean Marines – all of whom were also instructors at the Argentine Joint Training Center for Peace Missions (CAECOPAZ, for its Spanish acronym).
“The results of the exercise were exceedingly positive, and we achieved the objectives we set out to accomplish: perfectly coordinated work; the fostering of harmony among the officers, training, and doctrines; and the strengthening of the relationship between the Chilean and Argentine Armed Forces,” Maj. Gen. Ascazuri said.
Helping to keep the peace
In 2006, a Memorandum of Understanding established the FPCC, which began working with the UN in 2012. Its leadership is organized by the Bi-national Military Authority, which is comprised of Armed Forces officials for ground, Naval, and aerial forces from both countries and and appointed Joint Chief of Staff – a role that alternates annually between Argentina and Chile. The Cruz del Sur training program also operates under the auspices of the Bi-National Military Authority.
“The relationship between Argentina and Chile in the defense sector has been very good for a number of years. We are continuously working together on various exercises,” Maj. Gen. Ascazuri said. “We actively seek to help the community. Finally, there is also a fantastic mutual predisposition to collaborate – especially during times of crisis and catastrophe.”
Argentine and Chilean service members also contribute to various UN operations, such as the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), the UN Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) in the Middle East, and the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP).