Minister of Defense Jorge Menéndez, representing the Uruguayan Ministry of Defense, welcomed a delegation of 19 colonels, recent graduates of the U.S. Air University. A conference on protecting civilians during peacekeeping missions took place March 6th–9th. Authorities characterized the visit as very positive for bilateral cooperation between the United States and Uruguay.
Official visit: reception and activities
Lieutenant General Alberto M. Zanelli, commander of the Uruguayan Air Force (FAU, in Spanish), welcomed the U.S. service members. Various authorities from FAU, the Uruguayan Army, and the Uruguayan Ministry of Defense were also present.
Lieutenant Colonel Julio Maldonado, director of Communications at FAU, told Diálogo that issues important to the armed forces of both countries were addressed, including the relevance of peacekeeping missions for Uruguay in the 21st century, the role of women and their potential in the armed forces, and the training and social services provided by the ministry and its officials. “Among other activities, the delegation carried out a technical visit to the Army, Navy, and Air Force commands, and also to the Defense General Staff,” he said.
To wrap up the mission's activities in Uruguay, the graduates participated in a joint conference of the Uruguayan National School for Peacekeeping Operations (ENOPU, in Spanish), the National System of Peacekeeping Operations, and the Center for Higher National Studies. “This conference was on protecting civilians in the context of peacekeeping operations,” said Lt. Col. Maldonado.
As a representative of the Uruguayan Armed Forces, Lt. Col. Maldonado said the visit was very positive. “It involved reciprocal learning. Without a doubt, the U.S. Air Force is the most modern in the world, both from a strategic and technological viewpoint, so having contact with its academic body is fundamental for Uruguay,” he said.
U.S. Air University
“The Air University trains with the knowledge and necessary abilities to develop, use, order, and support air, space, and cyberspace power at the highest levels. The specialized professional programs of education provide scientific, technical, and administrative knowledge to satisfy the demands of the U.S. Air Force,” explained FAU Colonel Ricardo Devita, director of Public Relations for the Uruguayan Ministry of Defense. “The graduates and researchers of this institution have lots of responsibility with respect to the development of doctrine, concepts, and strategies of the Air Force.”
Activities such as integrating knowledge with the United States symbolize a great step forward in relations between the armed forces of the two countries. “This is the second time that Air University personnel made a visit of this magnitude to our country's main security and defense bodies,” said Col. Devita. “The previous visit was in 2015, after a memorandum of understanding between the Center for Higher National Studies and ENOPU was signed. Other joint academic activities are already scheduled between the Uruguayan Ministry of Defense and the Air University, which our ministry's website will disclose later on,” he concluded.