Brazilian and Peruvian Service Members Attend Humanitarian Demining Course

The Mine Action Internship of the Brazilian Peacekeeping Operations Joint Training Center trained seven Brazilian and two Peruvian officers to fulfill international missions.
Andréa Barretto/Diálogo | 10 October 2018

Capacity Building

Seven Brazilian and two Peruvian service members participated in the Mine Action Internship at the Brazilian Peacekeeping Operations Joint Training Center. (Photo: Brazilian Army)

The Brazilian Peacekeeping Operations Joint Training Center (CCOPAB, in Portuguese), a unit of the Brazilian Army (EB, in Portuguese) conducts the Mine Action Internship annually. Nine service members—six from EB, one from the Brazilian Navy, and two from the Peruvian Navy—completed the five-week course on August 17, 2018.

The course prepares participants for international missions. “Since Brazil committed to international humanitarian demining operations, the Army regularly holds a course on this topic to ensure we always have service members capable of meeting scheduled commitments or unexpected demands,” said EB Colonel Marco Antônio Estevão Machado, CCOPAB commandant.

Brazilian service members in Colombia

Five out of the seven Brazilians who took part in the last internship were pre-selected to deploy to Colombia, as per a memorandum of understanding the ministries of Defense of both countries signed in February 2018. With this agreement, Brazil committed to expanding collaboration on the removal of explosive devices in some regions of Colombia. The Brazilian Armed Forces now has 15 expert deminers, who are instructors and technical consultants, but do not carry out search and disposal of explosive devises.

Peruvian Navy Master Chief Petty Officer Robert Ángel Huertas Vargas and Navy Chief Petty Officer Miguel Ángel Cabrera Chalan are part of the Peruvian Peacekeeping Operations Training Center. The Peruvian service members took the course in Brazil to participate in the United Nations Organization (UN) Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO, in French). The Peruvian Armed Forces currently participate in five peacekeeping missions, including MONUSCO, with about 230 service members.

Academic exchanges between service members, Col. Machado said, are common in Latin America. “The Latin American Association of Peacekeeping Operation Centers gets together twice a year. During those activities, participants from each country make academic offers and inform of opened courses for international participation,” he said.

International responsibility

CCOPAB’s Mine Action Internship has two phases. The objective of the first two-week phase is to present participants with all international theoretical documentation regulating humanitarian demining. The material includes handouts and video classes, and is available for students on the internet. “This saves us time and resources during the internship, allowing students to get to the live phase with some understanding of the subject they will learn about,” Col. Machado said.

The three-week-long second phase takes place at CCOPAB’s headquarters in Rio de Janeiro and at some of EB’s units nearby. Instruction starts with classroom training and moves into the hands-on stage, with demining in the field.

“First, we touch on what the UN refers to as cross-cutting subjects, or basic knowledge all service members abroad must possess,” said Col. Machado of the content that refers mainly to code of conduct. “After all, service members abroad represent their countries; poor conduct may result in repercussions at the political level,” he said. The course also includes subjective content to prepare service members to face stress and facilitate adjustment to new cultural environments.

In the field

In the final phase, students move to EB’s Specialized Instruction School near CCOPAB’s headquarters. Interns identify mines on a field, using scanning equipment and other tools, and carry out demining tasks, destroying or deactivating explosive devices.

“It’s very important that this phase takes place in the field because we face real challenges. This is very useful to service members who will work on demining in Colombia, where part of operations are done on the ground in the very dense vegetation of the Amazon forest,” said EB Staff Sergeant Rômulo Gomes Casale, one of the course participants.

Although Staff Sgt. Casale is not set to participate in a specific mission abroad, he belongs to a database of service members authorized for deployment on humanitarian demining missions. EB requires a certificate of participation in CCOPAB’s Mine Action Internship and command of a second language to remain in the database. The course is currently taught in Spanish as per the collaborative demining agreement with Colombia.

According to Staff Sgt. Casale, Peruvian service members’ participation in the internship provided a great opportunity to practice language skills. “The exchange with the Peruvian service members was very positive, providing information about their Army’s general operations and about Spanish. They explained details of nomenclatures and demining terms that we are not familiar with, but which can be very useful in daily practice,” he said.

Five of the Brazilian participants will join demining operations in Colombia, while Peruvian service members will deploy to the Congo peacekeeping mission. (Photo: Brazilian Army)

The Brazilian Peacekeeping Operations Joint Training Center (CCOPAB, in Portuguese), a unit of the Brazilian Army (EB, in Portuguese) conducts the Mine Action Internship annually. Nine service members—six from EB, one from the Brazilian Navy, and two from the Peruvian Navy—completed the five-week course on August 17, 2018.

The course prepares participants for international missions. “Since Brazil committed to international humanitarian demining operations, the Army regularly holds a course on this topic to ensure we always have service members capable of meeting scheduled commitments or unexpected demands,” said EB Colonel Marco Antônio Estevão Machado, CCOPAB commandant.

Brazilian service members in Colombia

Five out of the seven Brazilians who took part in the last internship were pre-selected to deploy to Colombia, as per a memorandum of understanding the ministries of Defense of both countries signed in February 2018. With this agreement, Brazil committed to expanding collaboration on the removal of explosive devices in some regions of Colombia. The Brazilian Armed Forces now has 15 expert deminers, who are instructors and technical consultants, but do not carry out search and disposal of explosive devises.

Peruvian Navy Master Chief Petty Officer Robert Ángel Huertas Vargas and Navy Chief Petty Officer Miguel Ángel Cabrera Chalan are part of the Peruvian Peacekeeping Operations Training Center. The Peruvian service members took the course in Brazil to participate in the United Nations Organization (UN) Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO, in French). The Peruvian Armed Forces currently participate in five peacekeeping missions, including MONUSCO, with about 230 service members.

Academic exchanges between service members, Col. Machado said, are common in Latin America. “The Latin American Association of Peacekeeping Operation Centers gets together twice a year. During those activities, participants from each country make academic offers and inform of opened courses for international participation,” he said.

International responsibility

CCOPAB’s Mine Action Internship has two phases. The objective of the first two-week phase is to present participants with all international theoretical documentation regulating humanitarian demining. The material includes handouts and video classes, and is available for students on the internet. “This saves us time and resources during the internship, allowing students to get to the live phase with some understanding of the subject they will learn about,” Col. Machado said.

The three-week-long second phase takes place at CCOPAB’s headquarters in Rio de Janeiro and at some of EB’s units nearby. Instruction starts with classroom training and moves into the hands-on stage, with demining in the field.

“First, we touch on what the UN refers to as cross-cutting subjects, or basic knowledge all service members abroad must possess,” said Col. Machado of the content that refers mainly to code of conduct. “After all, service members abroad represent their countries; poor conduct may result in repercussions at the political level,” he said. The course also includes subjective content to prepare service members to face stress and facilitate adjustment to new cultural environments.

In the field

In the final phase, students move to EB’s Specialized Instruction School near CCOPAB’s headquarters. Interns identify mines on a field, using scanning equipment and other tools, and carry out demining tasks, destroying or deactivating explosive devices.

“It’s very important that this phase takes place in the field because we face real challenges. This is very useful to service members who will work on demining in Colombia, where part of operations are done on the ground in the very dense vegetation of the Amazon forest,” said EB Staff Sergeant Rômulo Gomes Casale, one of the course participants.

Although Staff Sgt. Casale is not set to participate in a specific mission abroad, he belongs to a database of service members authorized for deployment on humanitarian demining missions. EB requires a certificate of participation in CCOPAB’s Mine Action Internship and command of a second language to remain in the database. The course is currently taught in Spanish as per the collaborative demining agreement with Colombia.

According to Staff Sgt. Casale, Peruvian service members’ participation in the internship provided a great opportunity to practice language skills. “The exchange with the Peruvian service members was very positive, providing information about their Army’s general operations and about Spanish. They explained details of nomenclatures and demining terms that we are not familiar with, but which can be very useful in daily practice,” he said.

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