The U.S. Army, through the 2nd Battalion, 153rd Infantry Regiment, trained members of the Honduran Army and the Intelligence Troops and Special Response Security Group (TIGRES, per its Spanish acronym) in “Instructor Training for Countering Transnational Threats and Organized Crime” courses. These courses are part of the 2017 Training Program that the U.S. Army is conducting to counter transnational threats at the request of the Honduran Ministry of Defense, within the framework of the cooperation agreements signed between both nations.
“These courses are meant to bolster operational capacities for tackling the various emerging threats and organized crime that reign in the country, as well as strengthening our friendship bonds with the U.S. Army and guaranteeing security in the Western Hemisphere,” Colonel José Humberto Pérez, the head of the Honduran Army’s Department of Organization, Operations, Training, and Crisis Management, told Diálogo. The third and final instructor training course was held June 26th to July 16th at the facilities of the Honduran Army’s 2nd Air Transport Infantry Battalion in the department of Francisco Morazán.
Sixty-three elite service members and 10 elite police attended the training. The first course was held May 1st to 20th and the second from May 29th to June 18th. More than 120 personnel participated in both cycles. During the classroom instruction and hands-on practice, highly trained U.S. service members shared their knowledge and experience on strategic issues such as human rights, close combat, the decision-making process, and first aid. Applying this knowledge allowed the Honduran personnel to improve their abilities and procedures on how to plan and conduct various operations, including clearing buildings, freeing hostages, activities for directing operations against terrorists, and urban operations.
The U.S. commandos also provided instruction on the use of force while strictly observing human rights and adherence to current regulations in that regard. They also provided the students with essential tools and knowledge for administering first aid to colleagues injured in combat.
“Training is the cornerstone of everything a service member does to fulfill the mission,” Col. Pérez stressed. “For our armed forces, it’s important to keep up and practice new skills, techniques, and military tactics for the purpose of contributing to missions against terrorism, drug trafficking, and organized crime.”
Upon completing the first course, the U.S. instructors chose the 10 best students from that cycle so that once certified, they can participate as pre-instructors in the next two courses. Now qualified and certified Honduran personnel are prepared to teach the courses to the military units.
“It was an intense and magnificent course. [Now] we have the tools, knowledge, and experience for this training to continue being taught,” Captain Heryd Francisco Videa, a certified instructor and the dean of the Department of Tactics at the Honduran Army Officer Candidate School, told Diálogo.
The 2017 Training Program ends in September. Honduran service members received instruction in, among other things, Procedures for Countering Transnational Threats, Operational Communications, Expert Exchange on Information and Intelligence, Joint Border Security, and Expert Exchange on Security and Training for Senior Enlisted.
“The training also helps us bolster our capacities for countering latent threats of a natural nature, such as hurricanes, earthquakes, and natural disasters,” Col. Pérez noted. He also pointed out that since the U.S. Department of Defense began the Training Program in 2013, more than 1,280 military personnel have graduated from the various training blocks.
Opening up new frontiers
“It’s very important to open up new frontiers, in terms of training, because it brings our personnel to a level of professionalization, modernization, and upgrading,” Captain Wilman Alexander Torres, a certified instructor and the dean of the Department of Psychological Research, Statistics, and Computation at the Honduran Army Officer Candidate School, told Diálogo. “It’s an honor to serve and to support the development of our military institutions through knowledge acquired for the purpose of contributing to our national development thanks to the support of the U.S. Army National Guard.”
The training of security forces goes hand in hand with a series of measures the government has implemented to bolster national security. The main objectives are to dismantle drug cartels by extraditing high-profile drug traffickers, to reduce the amount of cocaine that transits through Honduras to the United States by 40 percent, and to create the Plan of the Alliance for Prosperity in the Northern Triangle, an initiative that Honduras is leading alongside El Salvador and Guatemala, with support from the United States, Colombia, and Mexico, according to a press release from the Office of the President of Honduras.
“To continue making these meaningful gains, we are fully willing to train every day,” Capt. Torres concluded. “We want to be better equipped to act in the various operations that are conducted and to lower the crime rate in our country.”