Members of Uruguay’s Defense Ministry completed a course on the detection of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), held June 3rd at the Uruguayan Peacekeeping Operations School (ENOPU, for its Spanish acronym).
A total of 58 Ministry of Defense members, as well as senior and junior personnel from the National Army, participated. The course, part of the subject area of preventative security, was administered jointly by the U.S. Army and the Uruguayan Army’s Material and Weapons Service and 1st Engineer Brigade.
The IED Detection Course
The course covered the identification and elimination of explosive devices on terrain where peacekeeping missions are undertaken. Uruguay has had a strong presence in these missions for many years. "Our nation is recognized internationally for its important contribution in peacekeeping missions, especially over the past 20 years, during which time the number of personnel in the field increased greatly," said Lieutenant Colonel Carlos Frachelle, Public Relations director for the Uruguayan Army.
Lt. Col. Frachelle explained how to carry out the deactivation and neutralization of explosive devices. "Explosive devices are classified according to type… in the field, we come across anything from incendiary devices to radioactive, biological, and chemical devices. In each case, detection is different," he said.
An Example of Inter-Institutional Cooperation and Interoperability
"The course is another example of inter-institutional cooperation. Several Uruguayan officials from the Engineer Brigade and from the National Army itself were trained at the same school as the U.S. technicians who specialize in this area… Uruguayan technicians who specialize in deactivation of explosive devices were sent to countries like Spain and the United Kingdom for training," Lt. Col. Frachelle explained.
"The first time a course was taught on the deactivation of explosive devices was in December 2010. Since then, we have continued deepening our cooperation with the U.S. in this area," Lt. Col. Frachelle added.
ENOPU director, Colonel Niver Pereira, said the main reason to train and work together is the "importance of interoperability between the countries and between a nation's governmental agencies and resources, the Armed Forces, firefighters, police, and the Engineer Brigade.”
In Uruguay, the Army is the only armed service that has the capacity to work directly on eliminating and disarming explosive devices and/or bombs. However, in urban settings, police, and firefighters are usually the first to respond.
Col. Pereira participated in the course as a student and stressed, "one is always looking to get training and learn new tactics, new techniques to make our work more effective. The exchange of knowledge and experience is always a positive thing for everyone.
"Uruguay has the biggest per capita contingent of peacekeeping forces in the world. This course helps us improve our performance in the peacekeeping operations we participate in," Col. Pereira added.
In this sense, the course is a part of the commitments made for bilateral cooperation between the United States and Uruguay. In recent years, these commitments have been related to topics such as maritime combat operations, weapons handling, and the fight against terrorism and drug trafficking.
Uruguay and the Maintenance of Peace
Uruguay has a long tradition with peacekeeping missions. In 1928, Uruguay participated in its first mission that was due to the conflict at the time between the republics of Bolivia and Paraguay over the so-called Chaco Boreal. Uruguay's first, historic "Military Observation" mission occurred in 1935, when members of the National Army were sent to that region.
According to the ENOPU, there have been Uruguayan contingents in the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) since 1952, in Egypt as part of the Multinational Force & Observers since 1982, in the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the DR Congo (MONUSCO), since 2010, and in both the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), and the United Nations Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI), since 2004.
It should also be noted that ENOPU has received recognition in the region. Created in 2008, its main function has been to educate, train, and help Armed Forces members build their skill set for missions abroad.