The Chilean Army celebrated the 138th anniversary of the Assault and Capture of Cape Arica June 7th with an international competition. Chilean, Brazilian, and Argentinian service members took part in the International Patrol Competition May 31–June 1, 2018. Chile invited partner nations to take part in the yearly event in the Atacama Desert, the northernmost part of Chile, for the first time.
An Argentinian Army team and a Brazilian Army team (EB, in Portuguese), with nine service members each, joined six Chilean teams in the competition. The Chilean Army’s Ground Operations Command organized the event, which was carried out by the First Cuirassiers Armored Brigade, in the Pampa Chaca training field in Arica.
The mission: cover 80 kilometers in the desert while completing various tasks within 48 hours—first aid, fire and movement combat target reconnaissance, daytime and nighttime navigation, and more. The competition assessed military skills, leadership, and physical ability of patrols, according to the international military standards of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Each Tests were scored based on teams’ performance and level of success.
“Hydration, because there was no water refills on the first day, and patrol orientation, due to lack of reference points, demanded our greatest attention,” said EB Second Lieutenant João Gabriel dos Santos Freitas, attached to the 12th Light Infantry Brigade. For EB Sergeant Geovane Miguel dos Santos, another team member, the sandy terrain and long-distance walk added to the challenge. Service members carried about 8 liters of water each. According to the rules of the competition, the total weight of participants’ backpack, including water, had to be 35 kilograms.
The mandatory equipment included a 3-kg assault rifle, as well as communication and navigation tools, such as a compass, binoculars, and radio. The use of GPS was prohibited.
Chilean, Brazilian, and Argentinian patrols gathered at the First Cuirassiers Armored Brigade’s military camp in Arica for a short training and briefing prior to the competition. When the competition started June 1st, teams proceeded separately.
Teams took off at intervals based on a lottery. First, two deployments from Chile and one from Argentina departed. The remaining teams left in a second round. Upon reaching the village of Caleta Vítor, teams were transported via helicopter back to the city of Arica to finish the last phase of the competition: march to the top of the steep hill of Morro de Arica. The competition ended June 3rd, with the Chilean Army’s Sixth Division taking the lead.
“The teams scored points in activities throughout the competition. We ended in third place with 60 to 75 points, earning a Participation Medal. None of the teams scored more than 85 points to win the first place medal,” Sgt. Geovane said.
Looking back on the feat of the Brazilian patrol, 2nd Lt. Freitas remembered the daily 27-hour walks with 15-minute breaks every 5 km. “I think that our group did really well. With the experience we had in the first year, we will be better prepared for future competitions,” he said.
EB selected candidates for the International Patrol Competition among service members of divisions under the 12th Light Infantry Brigade. Candidates were tested in situations similar to those they would encounter during the Chilean competition. They completed a long-distance march, an obstacle course, as well as marksmanship, navigation, and swimming evaluations.
The nine service members selected immediately underwent 12 weeks of training to develop their physical and psychological abilities, based on guidelines from the Chilean Army. “This was a great learning experience because it was a quest for improvement, looking to place the Brazilian Army in a prominent position with partner nations,” said Sgt. Geovane. Based in São Paulo and operating throughout Brazil, the 12th Light Infantry Brigade focuses on combat and reconnaissance patrols.