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    Southern Exchange 2009 helps Paraguay make history



    Story by Staff Sgt. David Hercher 

    U.S. Marine Corps Forces, South

    RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil - In the history of Paraguayan support of United Nation missions, Paraguayan forces have typically augmented the contingents for Brazil in Haiti or Argentina in Cypress in support of their Peace Keeping Operations. This year marks the first time in Paraguayan history that her peacekeepers are preparing to deploy under their own flag.

    This year, the Compania de Ingenieria Multi-role (CIM by its Spanish acronym), a Paraguayan multi-role engineer company, with the aid of the U.S. State Department through the Global Peace Operations Initiative program, is training to support its own UNPKO, United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad.

    The GPOI program is a U.S. State Department program that funds and trains 75,000 new peacekeepers around the world. To date, Paraguay has four million GPOI dollars allocated to it for training, equipment, refurbishment of training facilities, according to Maj. Juan F. Forero, USMC, U.S. Peace Operations coordinator for Paraguay. As the State Partner to Paraguay, Massachusetts and its National Guard also assist with their technical expertise preparation for MINURCAT.

    This historical page in Paraguayan history would not be written if it were not for the volunteer efforts of the Paraguayan countrymen who make up this unique composite force which is comprised of various experts from all branches of service of the Paraguayan military with the skill sets needed to fulfill this particular UNPKO.

    Designed similarly to a United States Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force, the ad hoc mix of Paraguayan peacekeeping and disaster relief volunteer personnel are trained at the Centro de Entrenamiento Conjunto de Operaciones de Paz, a peace operations training center, in Paraguay. This agency, supported by GPOI, is one of the few of its kind operating in the world and unique in the country.

    Through GPOI, the CIM is able to acquire training and participate in regional and local exercises such as PKO of the Americas, PANAMEX, and Southern Exchange 2009.

    This year, for this first time, Paraguay was invited to attend as observers during Southern Exchange, a transparent, multinational exchange sponsored by a different partner nation each year and co-sponsored by U.S. Marine Corps Forces-South in Miami, Fla. SE works to provide Marines, from all over the Americas, with the military coalition training opportunities needed for a PKO, Security and Support Operation or a Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief Operation. As this is their first year, Paraguay has one observer in attendance of SE this year as they assess the benefits this exercise could provide to their training and readiness.

    "Each participating country has a vital role in Southern Exchange. Either by giving instruction for one of the training blocks, working as exercise staff, or sending a contingent to participate in the exercise, every country decides what they can bring to the exercise," said Maj. Forero. "This year is Paraguay's opportunity to determine what role they might play in the future of Southern Exchange."

    Participation in multinational exercises such as Southern Exchange meets the United Nations requirements for peacekeeping training in the areas of security operations, civil affairs, human rights, among others. These classes provide a staple education that enhances participating nation's abilities to support broader U.N. missions.

    "Transparent multinational exercises offer the best military coalition training opportunities," said Lt Col. Miguel Ameigeiras, the MARFORSOUTH SE09 exercise director. "They provide an excellent opportunity for a regional exchange of ideas and training while simultaneously fostering goodwill that will be invaluable during any possible peacekeeping or disaster relief missions that may arise in the future."

    Historically, some or all of the Southern Exchange partner nation forces have cooperated in U.N. multinational missions, such as the U.N. Operation in Côte d'Ivoire, the U.N. Stabilization Mission in Haiti and the U.N. Missions in the Sudan, the Congo, and Sinai. This year, participants from Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Peru, Argentina, Uruguay, the United States, Paraguay and Ecuador participated in Southern Exchange 2009.

    The Compania de Ingenieria Multi-role, supported by the GPOI and the U.S. state of Massachusetts, will soon be ready to write new pages in Paraguayan military history as they prepare for their upcoming deployment to MINURCAT.



    Date Taken: 07.28.2009
    Date Posted: 07.28.2009 21:00
    Story ID: 36916
    Location: RIO DE JANEIRO, RJ, BR 

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