The Republic of Chile is emerging as a regional leader in UN peacekeeping operations. Chilean peacekeepers have taken part in, or are actively engaged in, operations in Haiti, Cyprus, the Kashmir region, Bosnia and the Middle East. Beyond Chile’s contributions toward stabilizing some of the world’s most challenging hotspots, it is sharing its hard-earned expertise with neighboring countries at the Chilean Joint Peacekeeping Operations Centre (CECOPAC) in Santiago. The Department of State, through our Global Peace Operations Initiative (GPOI), is proud to support Chile as it steps up to the challenge of strengthening international peace and security.
GPOI is a U.S. Government-funded security assistance program working to meet the growing global demand for specially trained personnel to serve in international peace operations, an investment noted by President Obama in his speech at West Point last week. GPOI helps to build the capabilities of U.S. partner countries to train and sustain peacekeepers; increase the number of capable military troops and formed police units available for deployment; and facilitate the preparation, logistical support, and deployment of peacekeepers. GPOI promotes international peace and security while reducing the burden on U.S. military forces, and helps set the stage for post-conflict recovery around the world.
Chilean peacekeepers are mostly visible today through their work in the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). As of April 31 of this year, approximately 425 Chilean security personnel including 15 women are on the ground supporting this complex mission, working with more than 7,500 military and civilian personnel from 53 other countries. A helicopter group, consisting of members of the Chilean Air Force, flies reconnaissance missions and supports ground units in the performance of their duties, performs medical evacuations and transports MINUSTAH officials. Chilean military construction engineers, part of a combined Engineer Battalion with personnel from Ecuador, construct and repair roads, clear debris, construct retaining walls, and related tasks essential to helping Haiti continue to recover from the 2010 earthquake. In addition to military personnel, Chile also contributes national uniformed police and investigative police officers, two of whom are women, who serve with the U.N. police force (UNPOL) in Haiti, working to increase the skills and capabilities of the Haitian National Police (HNP), which will be critical to ensure security throughout the country after MINUSTAH draws down.
Chile’s contributions to international peacekeeping efforts go beyond deploying its own forces to UN missions. Chile’s peacekeeping training at CECOPAC provides a force multiplier effect. Last year, forces from El Salvador and Honduras trained at CECOPAC, before embedding with a Chilean battalion and deploying to MINUSTAH to gain on-the-ground experience.
In places like Chile, GPOI builds on this progress by "training the trainers," thereby creating sustainable capabilities in partner nations that can self-sufficiently prepare their own forces to meet the growing global demand for well-trained peacekeeping personnel. GPOI has worked hand-in-glove with CECOPAC to set up a Women in Peacekeeping Workshop and Seminar, the first of its kind in the region. GPOI also provided funds for the construction of a military operation urban training facility for forces deploying to Haiti.
We welcome Chile’s leadership and commitment to international peacekeeping and through GPOI, look forward to continuing our successful partnership toward promoting international peace and security.
About the Author: Lieutenant Colonel Spencer Van Meter, U.S. Air Force, is a military detailee currently serving as a Foreign Affairs Officer for the Global Peace Operations Initiative (GPOI) in the Department’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, Office of Plans and Initiatives.