Peruvian Army Welcomes Inter-American Defense College

Visitors learned about Peruvian efforts to combat illegal mining and related crimes.
Julieta Pelcastre/Diálogo | 13 July 2018

International Relations

Students of Class 57 of the Inter-American Defense College visited Peru to strengthen knowledge acquired in the Master of Science in Inter-American Defense and Security. (Photo: Inter-American Defense College)

The Peruvian Army shared its knowledge and experiences about security and defense with a group of 140 students from the Inter-American Defense College (IADC), a top academic institution operating under the Organization of American States through the Inter-American Defense Board. During the first week of May participants expanded their knowledge on countering illegal mining and related crimes, and reinforced bonds of cooperation and friendship.

“Illegal mining is rooted in illegal artisanal mining that occurs in the departments of Madre de Dios, Cusco, and Puno. The practice involves related crimes, such as human trafficking, money laundering, kidnapping, murder, and tax evasion,” Peruvian Army Colonel José Antonio Calderón Sumarriva, adviser and facilitator of Class 57 at IADC, told Diálogo. “It’s a threat, a concern, a challenge to security, and a risk for society and the environment.”

Academic bonds

As part of the syllabus for the one-year Master of Science in Inter-American Defense and Security at IADC, students of Class 57 experienced the Peruvian reality from a military and a cultural perspective. Officers from the armed and police forces and civil personnel from the Defense and Interior ministries of 16 countries took part in the trip to Peru. Students from Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, El Salvador, Spain, the United States, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, the Dominican Republic, and others graduated from IADC in Washington, D.C. on June 5, 2018.

After visiting the Inca capital of Machu Picchu, IADC students and personnel attended a conference in Cusco hosted by Peruvian Army Brigadier General Ricardo Bustamante Zuñiga, commander of the 5th Mountain Brigade. The conference, Operations of the Armed Forces to Counter Illegal Mining and Related Crimes, delved into the problem.

“It is Peru’s policy to counter illegal mining through regulation, interdiction, and environmental remediation [to] reduce crime through interdiction operations while controlling, inspecting, and sanctioning the actions of offenders,” Col. Calderón said. “Since 2013, more than 4,500 hectares were deforested in restricted and protected natural areas, and lands of native, farmer, and indigenous communities.”

Peruvian Army Brigadier General Ricardo Bustamante Zúñiga, commander of the 5th Mountain Brigade, explains Peruvian operations to counter illegal mining and related crimes to members of the Inter-American Defense College. (Photo: Inter-American Defense College)

Conference attendees learned about the triggers to illegal mining, such as unemployment in rural areas, the high price of metals, and the existence of organizations conducting these activities, which take advantage of government’s lack of presence to operate. “Based on shared identity, I learned how essential regional integration between the armed forces is to overcome what the United Nations calls freedom from fear and freedom from want,” Peruvian Army Colonel Ricardo Benavides Febres of Class 57, told Diálogo. “The IADC visit to the Peruvian Army was positive for the exchange of experiences and high-level academic knowledge in defense and security,” Col. Calderón added. 

Other academic activities included a visit to the Center for Higher National Studies in Lima. Students learned about the fight against terrorism and illicit drug trafficking in Peru, the national strategic planning system, the defense policy, civil-military relations, threats and challenges to the country, and lessons learned from environmental phenomenon El Niño Costero.

Strategic leaders

IADC trains strategic leaders who will contribute to crucial decision-making processes in their countries and help respond to an increasingly complex and diverse hemispheric defense and security environment. More than 2,699 students from 26 countries have graduated from the institution since October 1962. According to IADC, more than 40 percent of graduates were promoted to general, admiral, or the civilian equivalent. The college is located in Fort Lesley J. McNair, Washington, D.C.

“One of the most important objectives of the Peruvian Army is to improve land component operational capabilities through military training at the strategic level, prioritizing officer participation in master’s courses at regionally and internationally renowned institutions. The profile of the IADC graduate as leader and strategic advisor in defense and hemispheric security benefits and suits future army leaders and their training in the use of force in unstable, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous environments, which are typical of a multipolar scenario,” Col. Benavides said.

IADC students are immersed in one of the most demanding programs of their careers. The syllabus is structured to promote participation in the exchange of ideas, critical thinking, and the development of research topics related to defense and hemispheric security, as well as the analysis of possible scenarios to compel them to respond to many challenges.

“Among the main challenges that students face when they attend IADC is opening their minds,” Col. Benavides concluded. “[They must] widen the horizon of the strictly military field at the tactical and operational levels, and include other fields at the strategic level [to] create state policies that would contribute to achieve national objectives [with] defense and security components.”

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