Military Exercises in Latin America: December through March

Latin America and the Caribbean

This post was compiled by WOLA Intern Alejandro Urruti Heath

  • Oceanographic expert exchanges between the USNS Pathfinder (T-AGS 60) and the Oceanographic and Hydrographic Center (CIOH) of the Colombian Navy took place in Cartagena the week of February 22.  Discussion between naval officers of both nations included “expeditionary multibeam sonar kits (EMK) for riverine surveys, ellipsoidal reference surveys (ERS), hydrogrPhoto taken from aphic data analysis and quality control, ocean modeling/forecasting, and geospatial oceanographic databases.” Both nations stated that such collaboration affects their efforts to counter drug smuggling and protect maritime interests.
  • Under the auspices of its Ministry of Defense, 80,000 soldiers of the Armed Forces of Venezuela and 20,000 civilians performed a 16-day exercise in Caracas that began on the 14th of March. Russian troops joined the Venezuelan forces with the aim of promoting technical and military cooperation. Venezuela’s government billed the exercises as a response to the U.S. government’s declaration of a “state of emergency” enabling sanctions against seven Venezuelan government officials accused of human rights abuse.
  • 9 officers from the Armed Forces of Paraguay recently spent two weeks receiving training in border security from local police in the Rio Grande Valley of southern Texas. With the goal of combating increased narco-trafficking, kidnapping, and other forms of violent organized crime along its borders with Brazil and Argentina, the government of Paraguay paid the trainees’ travel expenses. 
  • A Medical Readiness Training Exercise (MEDRETE) was performed February 25-26 in La Blanca, Guatemala, in San Marcos near the Mexican border, by members of the United States’ Honduras-based unit Joint Task Force-Bravo, the Guatemalan Ministry of Health, and members of the Guatemalan armed forces. MEDRETEs intend to promote diplomatic relations through humanitarian aid and disaster relief. La Blanca was selected because it is an underserviced community that has suffered several earthquakes in recent years. During the two-day exercise, more than 1,200 patients were treated.
  • 3,200 servicemen of the USS George Washington, a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, are scheduled to visit Lima’s Port of Callao in Peru on the first of September. Of these, 129 will remain for the remainder of 2015 to train Peruvian anti-narcotrafficking forces, while the rest will spend 6 days in the nation before setting sail. 
  • In December, U.S. Army South (a component of U.S. Southern Command, or SOUTHCOM) played host to approximately 40 senior officers from the armed forces of Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida in order to provide leadership development through courses at the U.S. Army’s Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC). Additionally, a group of students from the Colombian Sergeants Major Academy was in attendance.