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JBSA News
NEWS | April 19, 2013

ARSOUTH CG tours Guatemala’s border security training facilities

By Master Sgt. Kevin Doheny Army South Public Affairs

Maj. Gen. Frederick S. Rudesheim, U.S. Army South commanding general, visited Guatemala April 8 through 11 to discuss bilateral security cooperation and the establishment of a new Guatemalan border security unit.

Rudesheim, along with the key Guatemalan leaders involved with forming of the new Guatemalan Inter-Agency Border Unit, traveled by helicopter to view the unit's forward operating base near the Mexican-Guatemala border.

The group also visited the IABU's headquarters location and the Guatemalan army's military academy.

The IABU will function as a battalion-sized element comprised of Guatemalan army soldiers who will work alongside police and Ministry of Justice personnel to execute security operations along the Mexico-Guatemala border to counter transnational crimes and trafficking.

The Guatemalan soldiers and police recently began training together and are expected to be qualified and ready for operations by this summer.

"Guatemala is the last line of defense before any drug trafficker can make it to Mexico," said Maj. Henry Munoz, Army section chief, U.S. Office of Security Cooperation-Guatemala.

"Guatemala's effort to bring together the various government institutions involved in countering transnational threats to form the Inter-Agency Border Unit should help deter illegal activities along the Mexican-Guatemalan border."

The training of the unit's personnel will be conducted by Guatemalan institutions, active duty U.S. Army Soldiers, National Guard Soldiers from Texas Military Forces and personnel from the U.S. Border Service and the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation.

These organizations will provide instruction on command and control operations, reconnaissance, security operations, proper coordination and roles between police forces and judicial authority, communications, weapons and vehicle operations. Human rights training will continue to be reinforced and incorporated throughout each phase.

The U.S. is donating vehicles and protective equipment to the IABU. During his key-leader engagements, Rudesheim talked to Guatemalan leaders about their plan to sustain operations long-term after the initial U.S. assistance is delivered.

"This is a tangible demonstration of the Guatemalan government's commitment to enhancing security cooperation in the region," Rudesheim said. "This concept has the potential to be used as a model for other countries within Latin America."

The general also met with the U.S. Ambassador to Guatemala, Arnold A. Chacon, as well as military personnel from the U.S. Office of Security Cooperation in Guatemala and other top officials.

These discussions focused on ways to improve the coordination of U.S. Army support to Guatemala on countering of transnational threats and in the establishment of the IABU.

"This was my first opportunity to meet with key leaders in an effort to continue to further our partnerships in the region," said Rudesheim about his first visit to Guatemala since assuming command of Army South in September. "I met the commander of the [Guatemalan] army at the Central American Regional Leader's Conference in January and it was good to renew our relationship."

Guatemala is partnered with the U.S. and 14 other countries supporting Operation Martillo, a partner-nation effort targeting illicit trafficking routes in coastal waters along the Central American isthmus.

In 2012, the contributions of Guatemala and other nations helped in disrupting illicit trafficking in the region by 30 percent.

The U.S. military participation in Operation Martillo is led by Joint Interagency Joint Task Force-South, a component of U.S. Southern Command.

"With Guatemala's support in Operation Martillo, support of the new IABU, various regional security and peacekeeping exercises and along with their support of annual leadership conferences, Guatemala continues to be a strong partner with the U.S.," Munoz said.

"Major General Rudesheim's trip was a testament to this strong partnership and the success we've had in building partner capacity."