To strengthen the enduring role of the Peruvian Armed Forces in international missions and in support of the United Nations (UN), troops of the Peru Engineer Company deployed to the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA). On September 5th, the second Peruvian company—comprising 145 service members from the Army, 41 from the Navy, and 19 from the Air Force—initiated deployment operations and installation of the mission's material and equipment.
“The soldiers carry out construction and maintenance work on aerodromes, highways, and bridges,” said Peruvian Army Brigadier General Fernando Fitzcarrald Guerrero, head of the International Affairs Office of the Peruvian Armed Forces Joint Command (CCFFAA, per its Spanish acronym). “It’s part of the work assigned by the international body, [soldiers are] relieved annually for a period of 10 years.”
The service members’ work in Africa includes land clearance for the construction of an aerodrome. Their duties also consist of restoring, constructing, and maintaining unpaved airstrips and heliports, as well as transporting construction materials.
The participation of the Peruvian Armed Forces in MINUSCA is carried out under the framework of the Memorandum of Understanding signed between Peru and the UN on November 11, 2003. The first Peru Engineer Company, with 205 members, deployed to the city of Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic, on January 6, 2016, for induction and administrative process. They transferred to the city of Bouar, near Cameroon, to contribute to repairs of 35 airfields.
According to Brig. Gen. Fitzcarrald, the first company was assigned other tasks during its deployment. Its current responsibilities include erecting two aerodromes and building and maintaining 490 kilometers of highway in different areas within the mission's range of responsibility.
“This work requires a large amount of human resources and materials in a harsh geographical environment,” Brig. Gen. Fitzcarrald said. “We work with high temperatures, the presence of armed groups, and various endemic diseases, particularly malaria, which affected our personnel. We’ve kept the risks to a minimum with the use of adequate prophylaxis and preventive treatments.”
“Peru and its Armed Forces are committed to the UN’s solidarity work to end the current conflict situation,” César Ortiz Anderson, president of Peru's Pro-Citizen Security Association, a non-profit civil association that provides security services in the country, told Diálogo. “The Armed Forces are highly trained to provide this type of cooperation at the national and international levels.”
More support for peace
“During its two years in Africa, the Peruvian detachment has efficiently and effectively fulfilled the mission’s tasks,” Brig. Gen. Fitzcarrald said. “We are planning to deploy more military personnel to the mission, in coordination with the Department of Peacekeeping Operations.”
CCFFAA, in coordination with the Peruvian Navy, launched the planning process to facilitate the participation of a Mechanized Marine Company, a logistics replenishment ship, and a missile frigate, both with onboard helicopters. Taking into account the necessary planning steps for logistics, budget, equipment, and organization to adjust to UN standards and other factors, the formal presentation won’t happen until 2018.
“Peru's contribution to peace missions is to send personnel and resources to ensure the protection of the population,” Brig. Gen. Fitzcarrald said. “[Peru also] supports the transition process, facilitates humanitarian assistance, the promotion and protection of human rights, and the demobilization and reintegration in the different missions we take part in.”
“Each deployment in international missions and UN support missions is an opportunity for the Armed Forces, because the military units strengthen their skills and are a highly-qualified human resource,” Ortiz added. According to CCFFAA, Peru has officers in military observer positions and general staff in missions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan, Darfur, and Abyei.
Experience fighting terrorism
“The world is changing in many ways. Global trends indicate more terrorism and very aggressive processes of climate change. We must have people ready to face these threats. What could be better than the Armed Forces training for peace missions?” Ortiz summarized. “The greater the participation, the greater the experience and international recognition.”
The Peruvian Armed Forces don’t just seek greater participation on peace operations. They also seek to implement mechanisms to foster and increase the participation of female military personnel on peacekeeping missions, with officers deployed as general staff and military observers. For Brig. Gen. Fitzcarrald, “the experience gained on peace missions increases the skill level of the Armed Forces in combat, reconnaissance, and facility security operations.”