With U.S. Support, El Salvador Grows as an International Peacekeeper

Posted by Stephen Foster
March 24, 2015
Salvadoran United Nations Peacekeepers

As a country with armed conflict in its own recent past, El Salvador appreciates the importance of international peacekeeping.  Today, El Salvador is doing its part to help other countries around the world get on the path to peace.

El Salvador is a founding partner in the Global Peace Operations Initiative (GPOI) -- a U.S. Government-funded security assistance program working to meet the growing global demand for peacekeepers. This month, with support from the GPOI program, El Salvador took a major step with its first independent deployment of 90 Salvadoran peacekeepers in support of the United Nations-led stabilization effort in Mali.

Salvadoran peacekeepers join the force of 10,000 military, police, and civilian personnel from more than 46 countries serving in the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).  El Salvador’s contribution also brings a key logistical contribution to the mission, in the form of three U.S.-made MD 500 helicopters, pilots, and support crews. Helicopters are incredibly important to peace operations: they allow for the rapid transport of personnel and supplies in remote and rugged areas, such as the deserts of northern Mali.

El Salvador previously deployed personnel to peacekeeping missions, partnering with Spain’s military in Lebanon, and teaming with Chile for peacekeeping duties in Haiti. GPOI helped El Salvador prepare for its first national deployment to Mali with flight and maintenance training provided by the U.S. Air Force, and the provision of $1.7 million worth of spare parts and support equipment to keep El Salvador’s helicopters flying. 

That’s how GPOI works. Through GPOI, we work to support partner countries who want to take part in international peacekeeping with the tools, training, equipment and know-how they need. Their mission: to help safeguard vulnerable communities and create the time and space needed to end conflicts and build peace. Started in 2005, GPOI is a U.S. Government-funded security assistance program working to meet the growing global demand for specially trained personnel to conduct international peace operations.  GPOI does this by building the capabilities of U.S. partner countries to train and sustain peacekeepers; increasing the number of capable military troops and formed police units available for deployment; and facilitating the preparation, logistical support, and deployment of peacekeepers.  GPOI promotes international peace and security, saving lives while reducing the burden on U.S. military forces, and helping set the stage for post-conflict recovery around the world.

GPOI currently partners with 50 countries and three regional organizations -- the African Union (AU), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS). Through these partnerships, GPOI implementers have facilitated the training of more than 280,000 foreign military personnel to serve on international peacekeeping missions, of whom nearly 200,000 personnel from 38 countries have deployed to 29 peace operations around the world. We have also supported 52 national and regional peace operations training centers, and three regional headquarters, and have provided financial, technical, and staffing support to the Center of Excellence for Stability Police Units (COESPU), an Italian-led center to facilitate the training of stability/formed police unit trainers.

Now, more than ever, there is a global demand for trained peacekeeping personnel. International stability requires peace operations, and peace operations require well trained, effective peacekeepers, such as those El Salvador is deploying to Mali, thanks, in part, to the Global Peace Operations Initiative. 

We applaud El Salvador’s commitment to peacekeeping, and look forward to building on our partnership through GPOI to save lives and help set the stage for post-conflict recovery around the world.  

About the Author: Stephen Foster serves on the Global Peace Operations Initiative (GPOI) team in the Office of Plans and Initiatives of the Department’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs


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