n July 4, 2018, the United Nations awarded medals to Argentine Blue Helmets in recognition for their work in the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP). Argentine service members take part in the mission since 1993 to help keep the peace between rival Cypriot populations.
The ceremony took place at UNFICYP’s headquarters with the participation of the mission’s high command and the Argentine ambassador to Israel, Mariano Caucino. “This is a great incentive for our soldiers who carry out an essential job in areas far away from our country. The recognition of their work should be part of the organization’s annual activities,” Caucino said.
The soldiers recognized belong to the 51st Argentine Task Force deployed to Cyprus in February 2018. “This recognition is for the services and efforts they made during their time at UNFICYP,” Caucino said.
According to Argentine Army Major General Carlos Pérez Aquino, commander of operations of the Argentine Armed Forces, Argentina’s continued participation in the Cyprus mission depends on a review of its activities. The UN Security Council expects a full evaluation by November 2018.
Argentina at UNFICYP
The Argentine Blue Helmets joined their Austrian, Brazilian, British, Canadian, Chilean, Croatian, Hungarian, Paraguayan, Serbian and Slovakian counterparts in UNFICYP. Created in 1964, the mission’s main goal is to avoid the resumption of conflict between Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities over a territorial dispute.
A total of 192 service members, including 15 women, of the Argentine Army, Navy, and Air Force, make up the 51st Argentine Task Force. All received similar training at the Argentine Center for Joint Peacekeeping Operations Training (CAECOPAZ, in Spanish). The center, which trains blue helmets for missions worldwide, also has service members of partner nations, such as Chile and Paraguay.
According to Argentine Army Colonel Miguel Angel Salguero, director of CAECOPAZ, Argentina sent more than 16,000 service members to the mission in Cyprus since 1993. “By doing so, our foreign defense policy showed its strong commitment to cooperation for peacekeeping and international security through United Nations peacekeeping operations,” he said. CAECOPAZ, the officer added, has a crucial role in armed forces’ instruction and training to improve the work carried out in different missions.
“Currently, the tasks of the Argentine Armed Forces in peacekeeping missions also consist of developing public security roles. What I mean is that these are not merely logistics or community support tasks, but supplementary tasks that local forces cannot fulfill,” Col. Salguero said.
Created in June 1995, CAECOPAZ is based in Campo de Mayo, in the province of Buenos Aires. In addition to training national and international military personnel to perform different peacekeeping roles, CAECOPAZ provides the necessary knowledge to comply with rules and standards of the UN. The center offers a variety of courses: journalists in hostile areas, civil-military coordination in peacekeeping operations, civilian protection, and a gender inclusion course.
In early 2018, CAECOPAZ held a course for new UNFICYP service members. Twenty-eight service members from Chile and Paraguay took part in the combined course. The two-week course consisted of theoretical classes and hands-on exercises on the ground to train the personnel in high-risk areas, threat situations, and civilian protection within peacekeeping missions