Peruvian Navy Admiral José Luis Paredes Lora, the chief of the Peruvian Armed Forces Joint Command, and Brazilian Navy Admiral Ademir Sobrinho, the chief of the Brazilian Armed Forces Joint Staff, held a series of meetings to exchange strategic information on security and defense. For three days, within the framework of the XXI Round of Talks, the military chiefs, and their respective representatives developed a broad program of activities and dealt with issues of common interest such as drug trafficking, terrorism, contraband, and indiscriminate logging. The meeting took place May 9th to 11th in Lima, Peru.
“We know that the chance of a conflict in this part of the continent is very remote, almost impossible. That doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen. Nevertheless, there are new conflicts that have emerged stemming from drug trafficking and terrorism,” Peruvian Army Colonel Efraín Manuel Pantigoso Malaga told Diálogo. He heads the Round-of-Talks Unit of the Peruvian Armed Forces Joint Command (CCFFAA, per its Spanish acronym). “So the rounds of talks take on vital importance because they ensure that we have an approach to security and military cooperation in this part of the region.”
A delegação peruana compartilhou suas experiências e lições aprendidas sobre como realizar o planejamento conjunto estratégico no CCFFAA. Por sua vez, os militares brasileiros explicaram a forma pela qual enfrentam as novas ameaças por meio de um de seus principais projetos estratégicos, o Sistema Integrado de Monitoramento de Fronteiras (SISFRON).
The Peruvian delegation shared its experiences and lessons learned on how they do joint strategic planning within CCFFAA. The Brazilian military members, in turn, explained how they confront new threats through one of their main strategic projects, the Integrated Border Monitoring System (SISFRON, per its Portuguese acronym).
The SISFRON initiative integrates complex projects of the Brazilian Armed Forces and various Brazilian government bodies to improve that country’s border security. According to information provided to Diálogo during the November 2016 1st Conference of Southern Cone Army Commanders, the data transmission monitoring system helps armed forces detect suspicious activities by means of land radars with a range of 20 kilometers, and mobile radars that can detect the movement of individuals at a distance of up to eight kilometers.
“It is important to learn about SISFRON. Brazil has a very modern monitoring system. Given that our countries share a border, this initiative can help us carry out interagency operations to improve security in the two countries,” Col. Pantigoso said.
Memoranda of understanding
The senior military commanders signed 11 agreements, or memoranda of understanding, to increase their integration and strengthen mutual trust between the two armed forces. CCFFAA made a proposal to strengthen the Peru-Brazil Binational Border Commission (COMBIFRON, per its Spanish acronym) to help with the implementation of timely solutions to security issues that could arise in border areas. COMBIFRON is a mechanism through which the fulfillment of military and police commitments is coordinated, evaluated, and supervised.
Other agreements were made to conduct exchanges of information, methodology, and lessons learned regarding military capacities, as well as to strengthen the areas of education, intelligence, strategy, doctrine, operations, cyber security, logistics, and engineering. Peru encouraged a greater exchange of knowledge in the area of cyber defense for the participation of the armed forces during natural disasters.
Permanent, ongoing military cooperation
The armed forces of Peru and Brazil have been holding rounds of talks on cooperation since 1996. The two countries take turns hosting the talks. With that in mind, Col. Pantigoso stressed the ties of unity, friendship, and professionalism between the armed forces of the two countries. “There has always been effective, permanent, and continuous collaboration and cooperation. In this last round of talks, the enthusiasm of the two armed forces has been phenomenal,” he said.
According to the Round of Talks Department of the CCFFAA Office of International Affairs, high-level meetings are also conducted with the armed forces of other bordering countries such as Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, and Ecuador, as well as with other interested countries like the United States and Argentina. As a result, they have the opportunity to discuss issues which are common to the region, not just to their individual countries, and find ways to jointly confront the issues, and for each to share lessons learned from their experiences each year.
The governments of Peru and Brazil work jointly to decrease criminal activity along their shared border. “International drug trafficking organizations, and what’s left of subversive groups, and groups tied to the ideology and strategy of Islamist terrorism, operate in the Amazon tri-border region between Peru, Brazil, and Colombia,” said Jorge Serrano Torres, a founding partner of Spartan Consulting Group, a global security consultancy based in Peru.
“Approximately 70 percent of cocaine production in Peru exits the country through the Apurímac, Ene, and Mantaro Rivers Valley (VRAEM, per its Spanish acronym), then through the Amazon tri-border region to the Brazilian side, eventually ending up in the Brazilian, European, and Asian markets. Two hundred forty metric tons of coca leaf is produced annually in VRAEM. The export of cocaine from Peru is controlled by two powerful Mexican cartels: the Sinaloa Federation and Jalisco New Generation, which are linked to European mafias,” Serrano said
According to Col. Pantigoso, the Peruvian and Brazilian armed forces have intensified their actions to improve the monitoring of illicit drug smuggling along the more than 2,800 kilometers of shared border. These actions are also to combat the misuse of controlled chemicals used as precursors, the illegal sale of fuel, and other crimes linked to drug trafficking. They have also bolstered the exchange of intelligence among the police force.
“Because of this same concern, troops from Brazil, Peru, and Colombia conducted the military exercise AMAZONLOG [also known as Operation América Unida] in the Amazon tri-border region with the goal of increasing the multinational rapid-response capacity in the fight against emerging threats. The Brazilian Army also invited other armed forces, including the United States, as observers of the exercise, which is scheduled for November. This cooperation is unprecedented,” Serrano said.
“We should create a few active points along the border in such a way that countries have control and can decrease these kinds of scourges that are harming each of the states,” Col. Pantigoso said. “It is undeniable that the ties of cooperation in security and defense have to be strengthened to be more effective when facing mafias involved in transnational organized crime,” Serrano concluded.