Peru and the United States Learn Together in 2017

The two countries’ armed forces will train together to fight organized crime.
Julieta Pelcastre/Diálogo | 8 February 2017

Capacity Building

VRAEM Special Command members will train with U.S. military personnel in 2017, to reduce terrorist and drug-trafficking activity in that region. (Photo: CCFFAA)

Cooperation between the United States and Peru is part of a broader Peruvian Armed Forces program of operational activities planned for 2017 with foreign armed forces. According to a December 24, 2016, report from the Peruvian Congress, the program will raise the level of training and the operational capacity of the Peruvian Army, Air Force, and Navy, and the knowledge gained will allow them to operate with and among foreign military personnel.

The United States and Peru reaffirmed their collaboration during a meeting in May 2016 between U.S. Admiral Kurt Tidd, commander of U.S. Southern Command, and Peruvian Defense Minister Jakke Valakivi.

The two discussed bilateral relations in the defense sector, as well as ways to address shared threats to security in the region.

At the request of the government of Peru, the U.S. military has conducted regular training exercises to the benefit of the Peruvian Joint Special Operations and Intelligence Command (CIOEC, per its Spanish acronym) and the VRAEM Special Command, also known as CE-VRAEM.

This year, in partnership with the U.S. military, the maneuvering elements of CIOEC and the CE-VRAEM special forces will work to improve their interoperability capabilities. . Training will take place in the provinces of Junín, Pasco, and Cusco and include instruction in special operations and military equipment, as well as information operations, interoperability, and field support.

The training regions were selected by the Armed Forces Joint Command (CCFFAA, per its Spanish acronym) to provide the maneuvering elements with access to mountainous terrain and jungle areas of dense vegetation, very similar to those of VRAEM.

Joint training between Peru and the U.S. Armed Forces is not new. It has been a constant part of the bilateral relationship for decades.

It is important “to keep our personnel ready for deployment in areas of operation so that we can continue to reduce the activity of terrorists who act in concert with drug traffickers, thereby determining their field of activity, reducing their area of influence and their criminal activity in the VRAEM,” Commander Álvaro Palacios Aguilar, chief of the Training Department for the Seventh Division of the Joint Chiefs of the Peruvian Armed Forces, told Diálogo.

In addition to these training exercises, the Peruvian government has approved three combined joint exchange exercises for military personnel from the two countries to perfect their special tactics skills and improve their ability to carry out missions effectively.

Members of the Peruvian Armed Forces and Police also receive invitations to participate in counter-narcotics training courses in the United States, to be held at the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, the Inter-American Air Forces Academy, and the Naval Small Craft Instruction and Technical Training School.

The training courses provided by the Peruvian Armed Forces and those received from foreign sources have contributed to a significant improvement in the situation in VRAEM. According to CCFFAA, intelligence tactics, techniques, and procedures honed during training have improved CE-VRAEM operations and resulted in the destruction of 259 maceration tanks and illegal drug production laboratories in 2016. Also, they allowed for the seizure of almost 8 metric tons of cocaine, and the destruction of 22 illegal landing strips.

Peruvian military activity and operations conducted in recent years have resulted in the capture and neutralization of the main leaders of the Shining Path terrorist organization, the recovery of captive communities subjugated to this criminal organization, and the seizure of firearms and explosives.

“The Armed Forces were able to reach out to the neediest communities, bringing together the efforts of government bodies and private companies to solve their most serious problems,” Cmdr. Palacios said.

“Relations between the U.S. Armed Forces and Peruvian Armed Forces date back many years. All of our combined efforts have allowed us to tighten the bonds of friendship between Peru and the United States,” retired Peruvian Navy Commander Ricardo Román, security adviser for the Peruvian Navy, told Diálogo.

The Peruvian Armed Forces, along with other sectors of government, will make every possible effort to steadily bring security and development to VRAEM.

“The United States’ experiences and knowledge acquired will be a great contribution to the skills of the (Peruvian) Armed Forces because the situations and scenarios are changing,” added retired Cmdr. Román.

“The challenge for this year is to increase multi-sector intervention operations, within the framework of a comprehensive strategy in the fight against the scourge of terrorism, which acts in alliance with drug traffickers,” Cmdr. Palacios concluded.

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