Paraguayan Armed Forces officials recently met with 18 U.S. generals and admirals from the CAPSTONE Military Leadership Program to share their experiences and assess regional security challenges, marking the program's first meeting in Paraguay.
“The objective of the CAPSTONE program is to help the Armed Forces [of Paraguay] to understand the basics of joint doctrine, to ensure the interoperability of services, and familiarize senior officials with partner nations to further develop joint operations and national security,” Col. Jorge Mieres, a spokesman for Paraguay’s Armed Forces, told Diálogo .
It also provides a framework to facilitate coordination among military leaders in the planning and execution of multinational operations. At the August 3rd meeting in Asunción, those leaders included Paraguayan Minister of National Defense, Hon. Bernardino Soto Estigarribia; Deputy Defense Minister, Brig. Gen. Victor Picagua; and Deputy Minister of the Armed Forces, Rear Adm. Rubén Valdéz, along with the U.S. delegation led by Gen. William Nyland.
Joint security challenges
Following an initial protocol meeting, Paraguayan generals and officials met with their U.S. counterparts in the Ministry of National Defense’s Salón de las Banderas (Hall of Flags) “to assess the main security and defense challenges in the region,” according to a National Defense Ministry statement. There, officials from Paraguay’s Army, Navy, and Air Force delivered presentations on their operating systems, impressing the U.S. delegation, Col. Mieres reported. During the four-day visit that followed, U.S. Military officials toured the Paraguayan Armed Forces’ facilities.
“From a strategic point of view, these types of activities are very important in providing an understanding of national security at the global level in an effort to ensure a better future and a better cooperative relationship between the two nations,” Col. Mieres explained.
For U.S. Military officials, the CAPSTONE meeting was part of a regional tour that included visits to Brazil, Chile, and Cuba, as the countries worked to develop cooperative regional strategies and partnerships to fight transnational criminal organizations and terrorists.
“Some of the key challenges shared by the U.S. and Paraguay are the fight against drug trafficking, organized crime syndicates, terrorism, corruption, and the trafficking of illicit goods and endangered species,” Col. Mieres said.
Fighting criminal organizations
Among those groups is the Paraguayan People’s Army (EPP), which serves as the armed wing of some drug-trafficking organizations. Some of these organizations operate across international borders, including the Primeiro Comando da Capital (First Capital Command, or PCC), a Brazil-based narco-trafficking organization that has established a presence in Paraguay.
Paraguay and the U.S share security interests, and are working together to deal ”with security issues from a broader perspective,” said Héctor Fabio Rodríguez, a member of the Latin American Security and Defense Network (RESDAL) in Paraguay.
Meanwhile, The two countries are also working collaboratively on other security issues.
“When it comes to issues such as climate change, maritime security, and humanitarian crises, borders do not matter: what matters is our alliances,” Gen. John F. Kelly, commander of U.S. Southern Command, said during the fifth South American Defense Conference (SOUTHDEC) held in Asunción from August 18-20.
Kelly’s visit “demonstrates the excellent bilateral relationship between the U.S. government and the countries in the region in the joint struggle to increase security within and beyond our borders,” Col. Mieres said. “For Paraguay, regional and international cooperation is essential in the fight against criminal groups and drug trafficking organizations. Law enforcement will continue to expand its coverage area and intensify its actions against these criminal groups.”