Guatemalan service members concluded the Amphibious Assault Course Colombian Navy instructors taught at the Guatemalan Marine Corps Naval Training Center (CANIM, in Spanish), in Puerto Barrios, Izabal, March 11, 2019. The objective was to improve marines’ response capabilities to counter transnational crime.
“For 30 days, the joint training, [where] five Colombian instructors and 22 Guatemalan marines participated, helped improve students’ tactics, techniques, and procedures to respond to different transnational threats,” Vice Admiral Juan Randolfo Pardo Aguilar, commander of the Guatemalan Navy, told Diálogo. “It also improved relations between countries that are part of the plan, strengthening CANIM.”
According to the officer, any training support increases personnel capabilities to improve operational results, share and update procedures, and operate with foreign units. Since 2012, Guatemala has received training courses under the U.S. Colombia Action Plan, a regional security cooperation program of U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM).
The training took place in two different environments: water and land. The final practice included high-performance strategic phases, tactical movement, countering enemy fire, water infiltration, riverine night movement, military swimming in open waters, and securing a beachhead.
The instructors, all Colombian service members and police officers, effectively fight against terrorist groups such as remnants of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia and the National Liberation Army, as well as criminal gangs. Their training with SOUTHCOM helped them gain experience in managing strategic local operations and national security.
“The amphibious assault program can be summarized in two lessons: [The first,] self-control to conduct operations under any circumstances, and [the second] is the importance of teamwork,” Guatemalan Navy Ensign Elvis Hurtado García, CANIM instructor, told Diálogo. “No matter how small the action of every element in the unit, it has a positive or negative impact on all the elements and on mission success.”
The training is specific and requires preparation to ensure that students obtain the maximum benefit. “Preparation allows marines to conduct operations to fulfill the assigned mission effectively and efficiently, with the security aspects they learn in training,” said Vice Adm. Pardo.
The navies of Colombia and Guatemala conduct exercises in riverine, lake, and coastal areas with similar characteristics. Both share similar training doctrines and techniques that facilitate training development and yield important results.
Once the preparation concludes, the Guatemalan Navy will choose one of 22 students to continue their learning in the Narcotrafficking Assault Course, with Colombian instructors and in coordination with SOUTHCOM. “Cooperation enables the three countries’ forces to get to know each other. Due to its geographical position and the type of transnational scourges that threaten Guatemalan territory, the Marine Corps must be versatile enough to work in combination with several armies and respond to air, land, and sea defense,” said Ensign Hurtado.
According to Vice Adm. Pardo, the combined training is a first step in developing CANIM toward marine training with tradition and a sense of belonging to the Guatemalan Armed Forces’ special unit. “We coordinate with the Guatemalan Naval School, so that CANIM can have its support, coordination, and supervision, and serve as an extension for marine personnel training and instruction,” Vice Adm. Pardo concluded.