For nearly four weeks, from November 3-27, delegations from 11 countries participated in the training program in Guatemala.
The training was conducted at the Regional Command for Training for Peace Operation Missions (CREOMPAZ) in Cobán, Alta Verapaz.
The CFAC program, which was designed specifically for the organization’s member countries, emphasized the skills and training that are required for UN contingents, military observers and staff who conduct peace operations.
Military delegations from Argentina, Belize, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Uruguay, and Canada participated in the course, which ended with four days of intensive drills.
“The education and training for international and peace operations under the command and control of the United Nations are highly specialized,” said Chilean Army Colonel Carl Marowski, director of the Chilean Joint Center for Peacekeeping Operations. “It is imperative to train military personnel to work in complex operational environments that are multinational and multidimensional. The conditions differ significantly from their sociocultural, religious, ethnic and geographic national realities.”
The CFAC is a specialized international military organization created by the presidents of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua on November 12, 1997, and joined by the Dominican Republic in 2007. Its mission is to promote a permanent and systematic effort of cooperation, coordination and mutual support among the Armed Forces for the professional study of shared issues and provide a high level of defense against threats to democracy, peace and freedom; to contribute to the security of the region; to promote military development and integration; and to conduct humanitarian and peacekeeping operations.
CREOMPAZ is seeking UN certification as an academic unit for peace-building forces. The process is similar to a university seeking accreditation from a national academic body.
CREOMPAZ and CFAC training
CREOMPAZ provides diverse training programs in two basic models.
One model focuses on education for operations. It provides a base of knowledge and intellectual skills that would serve to process the information following the judgment of the commanders. It seeks “a reasoned response in the face of unpredictable and complex situations, according to the training, ethics, moral, and codes of conduct they have been taught,” said Col. Marowski.
The second model focuses on individual instruction and collective training. It offers techniques, procedures and skills required for a specific function, that is, for UN operational tasks.
“This prepares the personnel to develop predictable responses and mechanisms in the face of equally predictable or less complex situations,” the colonel explained.
The training provided by CFAC and CREOMPAZ complement each other.
“In these [CREOMPAZ] courses, the basic training of patrols, shooting practice, and military transmissions and first aid at the platoon and squad level is complemented by the ‘Basic Soldier’ training proposed by the UN,” according to Guatemalan Army Colonel Mario Mérida, who is a member of the Guatemalan Network for Democratic Security.
The training prepares military officers to serve as “a United Nations Military Observer, United Nations Staff Officer, United Nations Logistics and Finance Officer, and United Nations Instructor,” Col. Mérida said. “The courses for officers and soldiers also respond to the competencies required by the Central American Armed Forces Conference (CFAC) Battalion. As part of the specific training for the CFAC, it also includes a course in equipment operation and maintenance.”
CREOMPAZ provides training that is useful to soldiers whether they are serving in typical assignments or deployed to a UN mission.
The training, which stresses “self-control, discipline, integrity, leadership and teamwork, will be fundamental to the success of the operation,” Col. Marowski said. “This knowledge will be supplemented later with education and specific training in deployment and operational tasks for the UN (Peacekeeper) to develop a capacity for interoperability and integration in the unit and country of deployment.”
UN peace operations benefit the national armies of the soldiers who participate in them.
“They result in a better operational performance within the regulations established by the UN, reducing human rights violations, and producing a better response in cases of transit through risk areas in the face of a fortuitous armed encounter,” said Col. Mérida. “They learn and develop the required competencies and skills and act within the regulations demanded by the United Nations. Also, they are available to support disaster response cases in our countries, if the magnitude of the catastrophe requires it.”