New joint venture to develop 500MW of solar in Ireland

first_imgNew joint venture to develop 500MW of solar in Ireland FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Solar Power Portal:Irish solar developer Shannon Energy is to develop 500MW of solar in Ireland over five years in a joint venture with Danish renewables investor and developer Obton Energy.In interviews on Wednesday morning with sister site PV Tech, both companies confirmed that Ireland’s forthcoming inaugural renewable energy auction scheme spurred the €300 million (£256 million) plan.Gerry Shannon, who runs the Dublin-based company with his brother, explained, “Ireland is fertile ground thanks to the government’s new auction process”. Ready-to-build projects totaling 150MW have already been secured and developed, he said, and the partners intend “to reach further back into the development process and look to secure greenfield sites” over the next five years, too.Details of Ireland’s long-awaited Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS) were unveiled in December. The first, 300GWh, auction is scheduled for the summer. The government has devised the scheme, which will be administered by Ireland’s transmission system operator EirGrid, in order to increase renewables’ share of Ireland’s electricity to 70% by 2030 from about 40% today.Both Shannon and [Anders Marcus, chief executive officer of Obton] confirmed that while energy storage was not included in short-term plans, it is likely to be included in the long-term.Corporate offtakers will also be considered in due course. “Corporate PPAs tend to be shorter term, five or seven years, and we’re going to hold these projects for 30 years, meaning we would prefer to have a longer-agreement,” said Shannon. “In the future, if we can find a corporate PPA or a private PPA that would be suitable for us, then of course we will go ahead and construct, provided that the bank regards to paperwork of such a PPA to be a viable risk.”[Cecilia Keating]More: JV between New Obton and Shannon Energy to spend £256m on 500MW of Irish solarlast_img read more

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Origins of the Swiss Army Knife

first_imgA red handle, a small white cross, a blade or two, and fold-out tools for the job— a Swiss Army Knife is an icon of utility and smart design recognizable the world over. Invented in the 1880s, and today still made exclusively in only two factories in Switzerland, the pocket knives are produced in dozens of varieties at a tune of more than 15 million per year.This summer, on a trip to Europe, I toured Swiss Army Knife factories in Ibach and Delemont, the idyll Swiss towns where pocket knives have been made for more than 100 years. Amid the pounding of machines and the bins of knife implements on the factory floor, workers assembled knife after knife to meet the world’s demand.It was in Ibach, in 1884, where Karl Elsener and his mother, Victoria, opened a cutlery cooperative that would soon produce the first knives sold to the Swiss Army. The original model, called the Soldier Knife, was made for troops who needed a foldable tool that could open canned food and aid in disassembling a rifle. The Soldier Knife included a blade, a reamer, a can opener, a screwdriver, and oak handles.Today, similar simple pocket knives roll continuously off the line at Victorinox A.G., the company that grew out of Elsener’s small cooperative decades back. Blades, corkscrews, files, punches, can openers, scissors, saws, and tiny toothpicks are long-time features.Other Victorinox knives include 21st-century touches like laser pointers, USB storage drives, and fingerprint scanners with data encryption built in. All the implements, from blades to data drives, are foldable or set on springs to disappear when not in use.In Switzerland, I traveled by train from city to city. Across the country, in the French-speaking region of Jura, I toured Wenger S.A., the other half of the Swiss Army coin.The Delemont company, founded as a cutler in the 19th century and later modernized by businessman Theodore Wenger, shares the Swiss Army knife trademark with Victorinox. Both companies’ knives have a similar history, and both have been purchased in bulk quantities by the Swiss Army since the 1890s.Like Victorinox, the Wenger Swiss Army Knives come in dozens of types. The company sells simple pocket knives on up to multitools like the Mike Horn Knife, a half-pound beast with two blades and a pliers. Its EvoGrip line has added ergonomic contours to knife handles. In 2006, Wenger introduced the Giant, a gargantuan, nine-inch-wide “pocket knife” with 85 implements that sells as a collector’s item for $1,400.Wenger and Victorinox are distinct companies. But both are owned by the Elsener family, with the great-grandchildren of Karl Elsener still overseeing production and managing a business that employs thousands of Swiss workers.In Ibach, after a tour of a factory where up to 28,000 Swiss Army Knives are made every day, I sat down with Charles Elsener, one of the great-grandchildren of the company’s founder. He pulled a couple knives from his pocket and started snapping blades and implements out for show.Charles Elsener talked about the hidden springs on which the blades and screwdrivers snap open and closed. It was a type of this spring mechanism, invented in the original Ibach cutlery, that made Swiss Army Knives stand out 100 years back.At my meeting this summer, Charles Elsener spoke about new implements, test products, and the science of metallurgy for making a perfect blade. From the factory below, I could hear the machines beat. It’s been 126 years in Ibach. The Swiss Army Knife machine continues to crank on.—Stephen Regenold is founder and editor of www.gearjunkie.com.last_img read more

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Panama Canal’s Expansion to Include Significant Security Upgrade

first_img The Panama Canal expansion project, which involves significant U.S., Chinese and Japanese investment, employs more than 40,000 people. Several regional economic and trade experts predict that revenue earned from the canal expansion turn Panama into Central America’s first “developed” country. “The expansion, by allowing post-Panamax ships to enter, will give an advantage to other countries in the Americas that will see a greater possibility of connection through Panama,” said Ricardo Sanchez of the United Nations’ Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean. “The Panamanian economy will likely thrive.” More ships, more high-tech security Adibel said that Panama has “always been a transit nation.” And Latin America’s narrowest country has always been one of its most vital, providing a link between South America and North America. But with voluminous transit come large security responsibilities, Adibel said. The region surrounding Panama to the north and south is the source of much of the world’s cocaine. Southern neighbors Colombia and Venezuela, as well as Panama and all Central American nations to the north, are on the U.S. State Department’s list of the world’s 22 major drug-trafficking countries. With that in mind, the Panamanian government, the country’s security forces and the Panama Maritime Authority (AMP in Spanish) have jointly designed a high-tech security system to accompany the expansion project. Roberto Linares, the AMP’s administrator, said a digital ship registry has been designed to give Panamanian authorities access to maritime bureaus around the world. Using that registry, canal officials will be able to view the identification numbers, licenses, country of origin, cargo and travel routes of more than 9,000 international vessels. “The registry eases the process for ships passing through the canal and allows us to monitor the history and travels of all cargo and shipments that arrive at the canal,” Linares said. A central contributor to the canal’s cargo monitoring scheme is the Absolute Maritime Tracking System (AMTS), which has designed tracking systems to improve maritime security, anti-piracy countermeasures and environmental protection. The company has agents in more than 90 countries and monitor major shipping centers every day, every hour of the year. AMTS uses digital tracking and surveillance to monitor the course, speed and position of vessels. Any deviations or oddities in transport are flagged and reported to the AMP. Joint security efforts at the canal Aside from the digital monitoring systems in place, physical surveillance and canal vigilance are provided by Panama’s security forces with assistance from several other countries including the United States. Since 2003, the U.S. and Panamanian governments have held annual security meetings known as Fuerzas Aliadas PANAMAX (Allied Forces PANAMAX), which are 10-day to two week seminars centered on protecting the canal from drug trafficking, crime and terrorist threats. At the first PANAMAX demonstration exercises in 2003, only three countries participated. By 2011, more than 3,500 military personnel from 16 countries took part in live and simulated training scenarios in Panama and off U.S. coastal bases. “The security threats of drug trafficking and crime in the region are continuing to grow, and transportation methods are always evolving. Seventy percent of crimes in Central America are now directly linked to drug trafficking,” said Panamanian Vice President Juan Carlos Varela. “This reinforced focus on maritime security will help governments in the region to tackle the common threat of organized crime.” At the annual PANAMAX demonstrations, security officials are instructed on how to spot potential maritime, air, land, space and cyber threats in the vicinity of the canal. Security officers are trained how to locate and diffuse a threat, often through a board, search and seizure procedure. Varela noted that since more than 5 percent of the world’s trade passes through the Panama Canal, “it is imperative that all international security forces work together to assure safe travel of cargo.” UNODC assists with container surveillance In 2010, the United Nations joined canal security efforts, launching the Center of Excellence on Maritime Security through its UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The center focuses its efforts on shipping container surveillance to confiscate and prevent illicit and counterfeit goods from entering markets through seaports. “Better container security can raise the risks and lower the benefits to organized crime,” said Francis Maertens, deputy executive director of UNODC during a visit to the port of Balboa. He noted that less than 2 percent of the 420 million shipping containers used annually worldwide are inspected, meaning better opportunities for drug trafficking and illicit cargo. “Thanks to improved intelligence and information-sharing, in just seven months Panamanian authorities managed to confiscate 146 containers transporting drugs and counterfeit goods, with a value of over $20 million,” Maertens said in 2011. As the canal expands and more ships and cargo pass between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, increased security will be crucial to ensuring prosperity for Panama’s biggest undertaking ever. “The canal is the heart of Panama’s future and a vital part of the world’s economic circulatory system,” Adibel said. “It’s good to see that Panama and much of the region is taking the proper steps make sure the expansion is secure.” By Dialogo May 14, 2012 PANAMA CITY — The Western Hemisphere’s most vital commercial waterway is undergoing a historic makeover. The 51-mile-long Panama Canal is being widened, deepened and modernized to allow the world’s largest containerships, known as post-Panamax tankers, to pass through the inter-oceanic channel. The ambitious project, which began in 2007, will require $5.25 billion in investment and security upgrades by the time it’s completed in late 2014. “This is the most revolutionary expansion in the canal’s history,” said Rodolfo Sabonge, vice-president of research and market analysis at the Panama Canal Authority. “The expansion will affect both ends, origin and destination, because the economies of scale of using larger ships will benefit the whole supply chain. Liner services will likely decrease as the large vessels will be able to carry more than twice as many containers onboard.” Construction activities on and around the canal are proceeding at a dizzying pace. Along the flanks of the channel and near both canal mouths at the oceans, thousands of workers toil in the tropical heat — drilling, digging and dredging as Mack trucks and giant tow trucks transport concrete and building materials from one place to another. “It’s the first real project that Panama will be able to claim as its own since taking control of the canal in 1999,” said Julio Adibel, administrator of Panama Canal Authority, interviewed by Diálogo during a tour of the canal in April. Project to boost employment, standard of living For nearly a century, the Panama Canal was owned and operated by the U.S. government, which constructed the transoceanic channel from 1904 to 1918. In 2006, seven years after taking back ownership of the canal, Panamanian voters approved a referendum to expand the canal to keep pace with the growing volume of cargo passing through each year. In 2011, more than 320 million tons of cargo transited the canal, according to official figures, up from 205 million tons the year before. The newly carved expansion route will be more efficient and direct, and have almost double the amount of cargo capacity of the canal. A third set of locks — which are used to lift and lower ships as they pass through the freshwater channel — will be added. The new locks will have deeper docking areas, offer an additional lane for more ship transit, and come equipped with sliding doors to expedite the transfer process. last_img read more

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Girl’s Capture Highlights FARC’s Use of Minors

first_imgBy Dialogo June 28, 2012 The capture of a wounded girl in camouflage paint and with explosives provided by FARC guerrillas has raised fears that Colombia’s half century old conflict may be taking an ominous new turn. While the leftist guerrilla group has long been accused of recruiting minors to its ranks, a video aired this week by the Colombian police appeared to show for the first time they are now being used in combat operations rather than in support roles. Taken in the province of Norte de Santander, the images show a wounded girl and the body of a boy who were captured after detonating explosives that killed seven police in a passing patrol. The girl is shown with a leg wound, her half-naked body covered in green paint, a technique used by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia to hide in the jungle. “She was in a state of severe anemia and appeared to be barely 12 years old,” Colonel Eliecer Camacho, the police chief in the region bordering Venezuela, told AFP. The girl, however, who has a cousin in the ranks of the FARC, said in the hospital that she was recruited four years ago at the age of 14. The boy’s torn body, also painted green, was found in the same place as the girl, Camacho said. The girl told authorities they had been put through an “inhuman training over eight months,” the colonel said. “They were required to walk for hours without shoes to harden the soles of their feet. They were denied food and water so they could endure more,” he said. According to the police commander, the guerrillas recruit minors by trying to convince them to join voluntarily, but once in they are forced to stay. “The recruitment of minors is not new, but their participation unfortunately is on the increase. Still, this is the first time they have been used for this kind of action,” said Ariel Avila, an expert at the Nuevo Arco Iris foundation. “It is too soon to know whether there has been a change of strategy by the FARC to use minors in these commandos, or whether these are isolated cases,” Avila said. Nearly 3,000 minors registered as part of a demobilization of armed groups between 2002 and 2011, but there could be as many as 10,000 more minors in rebel ranks, according to a 2009 UN report.last_img read more

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International Conference in Peru Commits to Reinforcing Fight against Drugs

first_imgBy Dialogo June 28, 2012 The international anti-drug conference held in Peru on June 25 and 26 concluded with the signing of the Lima Declaration, in which delegations from 61 countries in attendance committed themselves to increasing their efforts through an integrated strategy against drug trafficking. The delegations “recognize the need to intensify efforts (…) on International Cooperation towards an Integrated and Balanced Strategy to Counter the World Drug Problem,” according to the text signed following two days of deliberations behind closed doors. The delegations insisted that the drug problem “must be addressed in a multilateral, regional and bilateral framework, through concrete, comprehensive and effective evidence-based measures, to significantly reduce both the demand for and the supply of illicit drugs, under the principle of common and shared responsibility.” In their debates, the participants acknowledged “some progress” at the local, regional, and international levels, but still expressed their concern about “negative global trends in illicit cultivation, production, manufacture, trafficking and distribution, and abuse of drugs.” The United States was represented at the meeting by Office of National Drug Control Policy director Gil Kerlikowske and top State Department anti-drug official William Brownfield. “We’re always reviewing our policies, and precisely at this conference, the delegates are expressing and contributing their ideas in order to be able to improve,” Kerlikowske said upon being asked whether his country was engaging in self-criticism in relation to the drug policy it promotes. The delegations agreed, in addition, on the “urgent need to respond to the serious challenges posed by the increasing links between drug trafficking, corruption and other forms of transnational organized crime, including trafficking in humans, trafficking in firearms, cybercrime and, in some cases, terrorism and money-laundering.” The 61 delegations also agreed to exchange information and best practices in the area of effective programs, recognizing that the cooperation that may be needed in this area should be strengthened. The meeting was organized by the National Commission for Development and Life without Drugs (Devida), a government agency, and the Peruvian Foreign Ministry.last_img read more

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Naval Special Warfare Operators Assist Honduran Military in Establishing Elite Maritime Unit

first_img NSWTE-A also focused its efforts on partner nation self-sustainment strategies when seven FEN members were selected as future instructors, shadowing NSW counterparts during all training evolutions. This mentorship provided each Honduran instructor with the competence and confidence to conduct future selection courses and internal sustainment training unilaterally. Outside of the physical and technical training that is associated with a special operator, NSWTE-A focused on creating a team of communication specialists within the FEN to become experts in Harris radio technologies, a skill set that is lacking in most Central American units due to the lack of expertise. During a recent six-month deployment, members of Naval Special Warfare Task Element-Alpha (NSWTE-A), a deployed maneuver element attached to Naval Special Warfare Unit-FOUR (NSWU-4) in support of Special Operations Command South, partnered with their Honduran counterparts to train and increase the military capacity of the newly established Honduran Fuerza Especiales Naval or (FEN). The FEN is a maritime unit of Special Operators capable of combating transnational organized crime in and around their waterways. “The unique task organization, presentation of functional skill sets, and development of unit pride and esprit de corps has effectively paved the way for continued Honduran led training and operations in the future in order to keep their borders secure against transnational organized crime and illicit trafficking,” said the NSWTE-A officer in charge. NSWU4, stationed in Joint Expeditionary Base, Little Creek, Va., and in support of SOCSOUTH, headquartered at Homestead Air Reserve Base, Fla., designed and implemented a comprehensive training and maintenance plan to build the FEN into a strong counter-narcotic force. Organizational departments were also created to include assault, boats, communications, engineering and training with a senior officer and enlisted advisor assigned to each department. To compliment the efforts of the Navy SEALs, members from Naval Special Warfare Special Boat Team 22 also spent a month with counterparts from NSWTE-A training the FEN in basic watercraft maintenance skills and procedures, nautical chart familiarization, boat vectoring and intercepting techniques, small boat handling tactics, and long-range navigation exercises. With a rate of 86 people killed for every 100,000 inhabitants, Honduras is considered one of the most dangerous countries in the world according to statistics from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) report in 2011. center_img By Dialogo February 08, 2013 Some of the conditioning assessments included an eight-mile log physical training event and a six-nautical mile ocean swim across the Bahia de Trujillo. After completing these physical and mental hardships to become a member of the FEN, the 45 qualified individuals continued through more rigorous and operationally-focused skills training, which completed their transformation into a disciplined and dedicated team capable of providing the Honduran Fuerza Naval a capable maritime branch of special operations. Ten operators from SEAL Team 18, attached to NSWU-4, spent six months training and observing the FEN in a multi-disciplinary approach, resulting in 45 highly qualified Honduran Special Operators by the end of the two, eight-week Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/s) style training. These courses were modeled after the BUD/s selection training done by the U.S. Navy SEALs in Coronado, Calif. “In my whole military career, I can only remember three times when radios were used successfully on a mission,” said the FEN’s commanding officer. He added that the skills learned during this training should improve the success rate of radios during military movements. With a murder rate four times higher than Mexico, these alarming numbers depict a nation where violence is part of everyday life. Many of these casualties are linked to narcotics trafficking, where Honduras and other Central American nations are used as a transit point from South America into Mexico and the U.S.; the preponderance of these illicit activities enter the region by maritime. “The combination of SEALs and Special Boat Operators provided the FEN with arguably the best maritime training available within USSOF”, said the NSWTE-A officer in charge. last_img read more

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War College Aims to Build the Colombia of the Future

first_imgA few years ago we had almost 250,000 hectares and the year before last we reduced the area almost 49,000 hectares. However, due to some internal issues, the spraying of glyphosate was banned as of October 1st. Using the spray was a good strategy. It was not the only strategy, but it had the greatest impact. This has caused crops to be reintroduced. So now there is concern over the issue of drug trafficking, and we have a lot of experience on how to fight it with the Police and the [U.S.] Embassy. So this is an issue that draws the attention of other schools. Our Military academic programs include the Military Studies Course to train future generals and admirals, the Staff Course to train future lieutenant colonels and commanders, the CAMIN course for Military attachés, who will serve as defense attachés and Military attachés abroad… DIÁLOGO: What is the role and focus of the Colombian Army War College? The War College is building the Colombia of the future, and we are bringing together the country’s political forces. The strategic concept of what we are doing is basically divided into three areas: first, cooperation and development for stabilization; second, to ensure territorial control in order to protect institutions; and third, institutional strengthening of the Armed Forces, transparency, preserving comprehensive judicial integrity and many other things… So when we say we want to participate in cooperation and development, we have a whole portfolio of issues in service of the community. That is what we want to offer and that is also what has attracted foreign attention. But we know that the post-conflict era will involve conflict and we have several international advisers from the United States and other countries helping us work through this, and none of them is foreseeing a simple scenario… because the aftermath of war is harder than war itself. We are preparing for the worst so that we are ready, and we are doing all of this work at the War College. It’s interesting to read our country’s leaders, this General Salazar, he knows the facts and what the country’s needs are and where it is heading, this interview should be published by national media so the people can read and learn about the leader Excellent article, General Salazar is a great soldier I am in complete agreement with your assessment regarding the post conflict era which will be as bad as the conflict they have had over the past 50 years, I congratulate you, General, for the contribution you are making to the Government.. Each country should apply its own rules and laws respecting human rights as long as they are beneficial and healthy for their people keeping society at peace Meanwhile, the War College has several agreements/exchange programs with the European Union and the European Security and Defense College. We have one with the NATO Defense College… For two years we have been NATO security allies and in that process, we have strengthened ties in the field of educational doctrine, which is my area, with that institution. Last year we participated in activities in Austria. This year, in May, we will go to the [War] College in Warsaw to give a presentation. We are also close with the Defense College of South Korea and almost all other similar colleges, with our counterparts. We also have strong ties with the Air Force, Army, and Navy War Colleges in the United States. In Washington, we have agreements with the Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies… in short, almost all of our counterpart schools. Right now we have 28 foreign students. It may not seem like a very significant number, but it is significant with regard to the countries with whom we have agreements. For example, we currently have students from the United States, Korea, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Honduras, and Mexico, and we have had students from Guatemala. These countries are important in the international arena and are friends of ours in our global efforts, such as Korea and other countries that are here regularly. We also offer other extensive courses for the Military based on their needs, and our continuing education courses open to the civil society feature four master’s degrees: a Master of Security and Defense, a Master of Strategy and Geopolitics, a Master of Cyber Security and Cyber Defense, and a Master of Human Rights and International Law in Armed Conflicts. These four programs are very distinctive and quite unique both within the country, as well as throughout South America. All of these factors make it a very special school because of its capabilities, its organization, its academic level, and the mission that it fulfills for the Armed Forces. Here, we offer academic programs for the Military and academic programs that are open to [the civil] society. Right now the BACRIM –criminal gangs, also known as maras in Central America – are on the rise. But at the international level, according to the Palermo Convention on the one hand, these are called Organized Criminal Groups. Under the Geneva Convention, on the other hand, they are defined as Organized Armed Groups (OAG). The BACRIM vacillate between these two definitions. If they do not have significant organizational skills, unified control or control over a territory, they are considered Organized Criminal Groups and fought under Human Rights law. But if the BACRIM have a centralized command and control over territories, they are considered OAG and fought under IHL. We must be very careful with that distinction in our doctrine and our operations, because otherwise it can cause problems. These are examples of the kinds of complexities we face in our support of the Police. However, it is necessary, it was an order of the President and it is something that is also happening around the world. Maj. Gen. Salazar Salazar: Students who come to the War College have been selected by the Army, Navy, and Air Force. Each force conducts a selection process to identify individuals for enrollment, and what we do here, through very special lines of education, is strengthen their skills and expertise. The most important area of expertise is leadership. Other areas of expertise that we strengthen here are administration, management, strategic planning, conducting operations, and interinstitutional advisory services, so that when they leave, they can participate in recommendations at the local and regional level with civilian leaders. Maj. Gen. Salazar Salazar: Here, we rely a lot on scholars, academics, specialists in doctrine, and international experts studying these conflicts, according to whom this role should ideally be limited. First, we must demilitarize the Police, which is militarized in Colombia. Someday, when we get back to normalcy as a country, our Police should be demilitarized and the Armed Forces should focus on their specific responsibilities, which are to protect the borders and national defense. It will take time to reach that desired state here in Colombia. We have created a scale, a spectrum, with the aim of achieving a return to normalcy by 2030. We have 14 years to continue ascending towards normalcy and to achieve this we must achieve stability. Currently, there are still sources of instability –social, political, economic and security factors. So our future plans in the post-conflict era, which is expected to begin in a few months, are focused on efforts oriented towards the stabilization of unstable areas. Maj. Gen. Salazar Salazar: Right now, the Armed Forces are making progress on a system of joint operations (between all forces), coordinated operations (with the Police) and interagency operations (with other state agencies), as well as joint operations with neighboring countries. So our relationships are conducted through agreements with state agencies and jointly coordinated plans. We provide Military assistance in some areas to the Police. For example, the main function of the Police is to combat drug trafficking, illegal mining, extortion, kidnapping, smuggling, arms trafficking, land dispossession… And we in the Armed Forces have been helping the Police with these issues for two years, by order of the President. Here in the Americas and in various forums that we have participated in, we are making progress on the issue of how the Armed Forces and the Army are assuming functions in support of the Police. It is an area of concern, but if it is not done, these problems will increase. And if we do not support the Police, these problems will overflow. So we do it out of necessity, but under defined roles and with the legal protections key to the conduct of Military actions, because the work of the Police is covered under Human Rights law, while the Armed Forces operate under the IHL [International Humanitarian Law] for armed conflict . These are two different types of the laws of war. So if we are going to support the Police under Human Rights law, it makes it difficult for us to use weapons. DIÁLOGO: What is the importance of the ESDEGUE subsidiaries, such as the Regional Center for Strategic Security Studies (CREES)? Why was there a need to create it as a separate entity from the educational program offered at the ESDEGUE? Maj. Gen. Salazar Salazar: The War College has several facets. First, it is the Armed Forces’ highest center of education. Second, it is a school for advanced training; it is a think tank, a research center, and an advisor to the Ministry of Defense, the General Command and, on some occasions, the federal government. It is a school that is open to all branches of service. There are students here from the Army, Navy, and Air Force, all in the same room, sharing the same curriculum and the same goals. In addition, it is an international school. We have teachers and international students from many countries throughout the Americas and some from Europe and Asia. By Dialogo April 07, 2016 DIÁLOGO: But do you believe that supporting the Police is the new standard, the new role of the Armed Forces, or do you believe that it is a temporary role? they include allowing two or three countries that have a common problem to unite, regardless of their politics or other interests, to deal with it. Therefore, the CREES also constitutes a good way to combine these efforts against these threats. The CREES is also a think tank. We have researchers here. We are establishing agreements for research networks with other institutes. However, the CREES belongs to the War College; the War College has some agreements in place with other institutions and national universities and internationally, thus becoming part of this research network as a think tank. In addition, the CREES is also becoming an advisory and consulting body to the Ministry of Defense, which originally had the idea of creating the Center and finally achieved it with the support of the United States. DIÁLOGO: What programs are offered together with other partner nations in the region, such as the U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) and its components? DIÁLOGO: What is its significance today, 107 years after its foundation? What are your plans for the future of the War College? Maj. Gen. Salazar Salazar: We are nearing the end of an armed conflict, after more than 50 years of war with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The FARC are in Military negotiations with the government because we achieved victory and [the FARC] became convinced that they could not reach their aims by force of arms. Diálogo recently visited the Colombian Army War College (ESDEGUE) in Bogotá, where it had the opportunity to talk with its director, Major General Juan Carlos Salazar Salazar. Among many topics, he discussed ESDEGUE’s significance as a standard bearer for the region, its unique curriculum, its Center for Strategic Security Studies, and the process of change for which the country is preparing its Armed Forces based on an ambitious project launched from the school itself. Maj. Gen. Salazar Salazar: Nowadays this importance is measured on a bilateral basis. Agreements are expected to be beneficial for both parties, so that through these agreements and close working relationships we can work together on the current issue of joint threats to the region. From the War College, we contribute good strategies, good initiatives, and a good understanding of threats to national security and defense as the main issue. From the War College, this rigor, this research, and this methodology will always be solid elements to contribute to the security and defense of all states. All states look to the War College to understand and jointly consider strategies to combat threats. DIÁLOGO: How does ESDEGUE cooperate with the general and sectoral commands in developing doctrine to train and use ground forces? We have identified 17 areas of instability, five at sea and 12 on land, where if we apply all of the stability interventions, we will make significant progress towards normalization. These sources of instability include criminal gangs, drug trafficking, the lack of infrastructure, the lack of secondary and tertiary roads… If no attention is paid to the basic needs of health, water, and education –these are also factors of instability. There are many factors of instability, not just economic and security-related, that must be solved. To do so, at the War College we have made maps based on nearly 40 factors with the very large undertaking of developing the post-conflict plan. This plan has been under implementation for three months with the help of nearly 400 people from all of the forces involved in the strategic, operational, and tactical areas. We believe that within three months we will complete that plan to fight the factors of instability and get back to normalcy by 2030. It is an ambitious plan that is being achieved with the tools that each force has and it is contributing to a unified action by the state. And the War College, as an academic center, has initiated this great crusade and we are convinced that we are making significant progress in the Military area of operations. We are now taking the model that we have for the Armed Forces of the post-conflict era to other government authorities and the political parties of the country, the council of ministers, as well as other partners, such as the Ambassador of the United States [Kevin Whitaker] and [Lieutenant] General [Joseph] Di Salvo [the Military Deputy Commander of SOUTHCOM], to whom this will be explained on March 15th. It is a model of cooperative Armed Forces. We want to be seen as partners, as Armed Forces sharing in cooperative leadership that is integrated and not solely Military, but that is in sync with our leaders. Our style had been different up to this point in the war, but now there has been a shift to another stage and our contribution to the post-conflict era will be very different and integrated. DIÁLOGO: What is the importance of working together with partner countries such as the United States and others? DIÁLOGO: How does ESDEGUE compare with other similar institutions in the region? Yesterday, for example, we received the War College of the U.S. Air Force, which came not just to visit, but to learn about some of the issues of interest to them. Foremost among these issues was fighting terrorism. Colombia was a different country 10 or 12 years ago, a country under siege that was seen from the outside as possibly an unviable country. After so many years of conflict, we were able to turn the tide, and the balance of power has changed. They wanted to know how it was accomplished. On the issue of drug trafficking, we have gotten together with advisers from countries such as Mexico, under a United States-Mexico-Colombia triangulation, to advise Mexico. We have young people from our Police, Army, and Navy serving as advisers on drug trafficking issues. This issue has lately taken a turn for the worse. We are once again the top cocaine producing country, which is a major concern after having done so well. For example, under Human Rights law, you cannot conduct a bombing campaign, since this falls under IHL. Therefore, you need to update all the legal legislation and that is not easy. It is a process that goes all the way to Congress, and we are in the process of adapting our legislation to enable us to combat these criminal phenomena. Maj. Gen. Salazar Salazar: CREES’s main partner is the Special Operations Command South, aligned with the Joint Special Operations University (JSOU), and in its short period of time in existence, other partners have emerged, with whom we are now building partnerships. One example is the Security and Defense Network of Latin America (RESDAL) in the south of the country; in Chile we have some important strategic studies centers; and right now we are building some agreements in Mexico and Brazil that we hope to consolidate by the end of the year. But right now, our biggest partner is the United States. The CREES is a vehicle to show the world all the lessons learned and our experiences. These successes that we have had and that are very distinctive worldwide, such as our intelligence operations capabilities, which have been conducted in a clean, transparent manner, with a lot of initiative and dedication. One example is Operation Jaque, which allowed for the rescue [of 15 hostages kidnapped by the FARC in July 2008]. We have conducted many such operations. And there is significant interest from the international community, because we export such lessons. We have accumulated significant capabilities in the operation of nocturnal aerial equipment. After the United States, we are the country that most engages in assault operations, rescues, and casualty evacuation at night. Major General Juan Carlos Salazar Salazar, director of the ESDEGUE: The War College’s mission is to build comprehensive leaders that are prepared to face national security and defense challenges, both at the strategic and operational levels. Here at the War College, we train future generals, admirals and lieutenant colonels. Here in Colombia, there is a confluence of threats that are common to many countries in the region and the world. They have now become transnational threats. Crime is transnational, drug trafficking is transnational, and operating under a system of cooperative security, we can all help each other. So, the CREES also aims to integrate all of these regional efforts to understand the behavior of these threats and build strategies to address them. If we consider the measures to promote mutual trust at the moment, a mechanism that exists within the OAS [Organization of American States] and worldwide –a mechanism for promoting mutual trust – Maj. Gen. Salazar Salazar: There are several factors that make ESDEGUE unique in the region. In terms of our history, we were founded almost 107 years ago, so we have a certain status compared to other schools that are relatively new. In terms of the quality of the teaching programs, we compete with almost every other institution that has master’s degree programs. So we are very observant of how they operate, as a benchmark to make adjustments. Our international teachers also bring us great ideas from their schools. From the academic standpoint, we are updated through them and through the Military attachés who visit us and our attachés who go to other countries. In addition, our 50 years of experience with war is an issue that attracts a lot of attention and draws many people. There is a lot to teach about that, issues such as Integrated Action, which is very much a characteristic of ours, and how to contribute to the stability and consolidation of regions through Military leadership in critical regions. All of these Integrated Action issues receive a lot of attention. There are also new issues, such as illegal mining, which is being used as a source of funding to support terrorist groups. That has also drawn the attention of foreign schools because we also have significant experience in this area. Our experience in combating extortion and kidnapping has also been useful for our neighboring countries to the south and Mexico, who suffer from the same problems. Here, we have had a very successful strategy involving the Police, Navy, and Army with the GAULA groups [Unified Action Groups for Personal Liberty], which are the main tool to fight extortion and kidnapping, working closely with prosecutors and intelligence agencies. So, that type of organization, our experiences, also attracts the attention of friendly countries. DIÁLOGO: What is the profile of the students who attend ESDEGUE? What percentage of students are Colombian Military officers, members of the Armed Forces of friendly nations, and civilians? last_img read more

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A Strong Partnership with Its Neighbors

first_imgBy Geraldine Cook/Diálogo May 04, 2017 Barbados is nestled in the heart of the eastern Caribbean; it has white sandy beaches, calm blue waters, and sharp cliffs that attract tourists from around the world. But, like its neighbors, it also faces security challenges that are making its security forces become ever more vigilant. Drug trafficking, illegal weapons trafficking, and other criminal activities are keeping the Barbados Defence Force (BDF) very busy at sea and on land to neutralize criminal actions.Created in 1979, the BDF is responsible for the defense of Barbados and such other duties as the Defense Board determines. The military organization has three components: the Barbados Regiment (land force), the Barbados Coast Guard (maritime element), and the Barbados Cadet Corps.Colonel Glyne Grannum, chief of staff and commander of the BDF, spoke with Diálogo at the “Caribbean Regional Seminar on Countering Transregional Transnational Threat Networks (T3N)” celebrated in Bridgetown, Barbados, from March 21st-23rd. Among the topics discussed, Col. Grannum stated they are making progress on regional security cooperation in order to jointly confront threats networks. He also spoke about the BDF’s mission, goals and priorities for 2017.Diálogo: What is the importance of the seminar being held in Barbados, and of the BDF serving as its co-host?Colonel Glyne Grannum, BDF commander: The BDF takes particular pride and benefit from co-hosting the seminar in Barbados with the Regional Security System (RSS). We recognize the importance of the security of the Caribbean region, the security of the RSS’ area of operation as well as the security of the entire hemisphere because the issues we face are transnational threats that migrate freely across all our porous borders. The seminar is a huge opportunity for us to be able to meet, exchange ideas, and discuss policies and strategies to counter the T3N. We are honored to have such a great group of people from the Perry Center come here and share their views on transnational threats as well as the Caribbean states, their military forces, police forces, other security services, like customs and immigration, and Ministry of Defense officials. The seminar really helps to illustrate and harness the different points of view and experiences of all persons involved in defense, because the security community comprised of the forces and agencies of all the countries participating essentially comprises an alliance needed to counter transnational security problems.Diálogo: What does the BDF expect to gain from this seminar?Col. Grannum: First, to reinforce the positions of our fellow member states and international partners in defense in the hemisphere to strengthen their strategies and programs to counter the T3N. Doing so benefits Barbados as we, too, redouble our national strategies. Second, will be the development of our middle- to senior-level officers who need exposure at this level and need to better understand the transnational issues, so ultimately they can better participate in future events like security operations, programs, and strategies to secure our country.Diálogo: What is the BDF’s main focus?Col. Grannum: Our main focus is the defense and security of Barbados. In fact, our function involves working as part of the modern joint interagency family of security forces and services. One of our main objectives is to improve operational cooperation and effectiveness with the Royal Barbados Police Force through the provision of military assistance to the civil power. Our mission also includes –as a member of the RSS and as a member of the wider Caribbean community– to be able to conduct similar joint and combined operations with regional partners to deal with domestic and transregional security problems. At the same time, we don’t want to lose sight of the need to perform civil defense operational tasks, as we are in the middle of a very active hurricane zone. Our role is very broad in terms of dealing with many multidimensional and intertwined threats and environmental risks. We will continue to deal with security challenges, transnational organized crime, and also be ready to deal with the effects of terrorism in the region and humanitarian assistance tasks.Diálogo: What is the focus of your military efforts as Chief of Staff of the BDF?Col. Grannum: In addition to the focus of the BDF as a whole, our military effort includes maintaining a presence in our maritime domain with the ability to monitor and interdict illegal activities. On land our focus is to be ready to support the civil power, the police force, in all aspects of operations and provide humanitarian assistance and disaster relief throughout both land and sea domains.Diálogo: The BDF was established in 1979, how do its main components –Barbados Regiment, Barbados Coast Guard, and Barbados Cadet Corps– work together?Col. Grannum: They work together very well. The Force Headquarters is the superior authority of the three units. There is a very high measure of interoperability between the Barbados Regiment, as the land force, and the Barbados Coast Guard, as the maritime component of the force, in terms of providing security services across the island of Barbados. Very efficient and very effective interoperability has been one of our main strengths over the years.Diálogo: What is the BDF’s role at the RSS?Col. Grannum: The RSS has seven Member States: Antigua and Barbuda, the Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and of course, Barbados. The RSS Member States forces apply a collaborative effort for the security of the region. The BDF’s role as part of the RSS is to contribute militarily, jointly on land and at sea, and to be ready to participate in deliberate operations or quick responses, to deal with security challenges in any of the Member States. Since its creation in 1982, the BDF has participated in numerous humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations as well as a number of security operations that brought tactical resources from seven Member States together. The BDF also has the distinction of acting in a more deliberate way as part of a wider cooperation and treaty arrangement with CARICOM [the Caribbean Community] for example, participating in operations in Haiti (1994 – 1996) and the Cricket World Cup (2007). More recently the BDF was a part of the RSS’ assistance humanitarian assistance and disaster response missions to Dominica after the passage of Tropical Storm Erica (2015) and to the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force in Saint Kitts and Nevis for security operations (2016).Diálogo: What is your biggest concern in terms of regional security in Barbados?Col. Grannum: Regional security has been dominated for many years by threats of narcotrafficking and the shipments of marijuana and cocaine from South America to North America and into Europe, and the effects of the increase of criminality with violent gang crimes in particular. We should not lose sight either of the public health effects of drug and arms trafficking where there are very negative effects within communities and states. In the immediate future, and as was documented in open media sources, there seems to be an increase in cocaine production in some of the South American growing regions. Drug trafficking, as well as the smuggling of illegal weapons and potentially people across our borders will likely remain the most significant threats which we must actively address and confront.In regard to terrorism, we know the global environment is still unstable as we have seen horrific events play out in Europe, in parts of Africa, and in the United States. Lone-wolf attacks by individuals that are either inspired by or in some cases directed remotely by terrorist organizations and ideologies to commit horrible attacks, unfortunately continue. Our focus is on the prevention of any terrorist attack in Barbados and in the wider RSS and Caribbean region. Our efforts must include the continued sharing of information and resources to prevent and respond if necessary, to give the communities we serve the confidence that their security forces are aware of the global threat and are prepared for it. Cyber attacks are a third area of concern requiring focused attention and urgent operational readiness.Diálogo: How do you cooperate with neighboring nations to defeat T3N?Col. Grannum: The BDF has a very strong partnership with all RSS and non-RSS neighboring countries. We cooperate fully with the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force and their Coast Guard for maritime security threats, and have a very good working relationship with the French islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe. I am very optimistic that the working relationships with all countries in the region will grow stronger in the face of the security threats which may arise in the future.Diálogo: What are your/the BDF’s priorities for 2017?Col. Grannum: We are scheduled to co-host Exercise Tradewinds 2017 in June of this year. The first phase is going to be held here in Barbados, focusing on HADR response, counter terrorism and counter transnational organized crime operations at the operational and tactical levels. Trinidad and Tobago is hosting the second phase of the Exercise. Our priority at this time therefore on readiness to participate in Tradewinds as a vehicle for overarching force mission readiness. Beyond Tradewinds, our focus will be on national HADR efforts to deal with the annual hurricane season which runs from June to November.Diálogo: Is there anything you’d like to add for our regional readers?Col. Grannum: For a long time, the BDF has enjoyed rich and robust partnerships in terms of the community of the military, police and other security agencies, not just within the RSS, and beyond within CARICOM, but extending in depth across the entire hemisphere. We are pleased that the Perry Center could bring this seminar to Barbados. Our purpose and determination is well set in terms of delivering our national and collective alliance missions to deal with the modern transnational threats as they exist, whether those threats are from terrorist organizations, violent extremist groups or drug trafficking organizations. I think we have enormous networked capabilities to rely on by leveraging national resources in harmony with our neighbors. Our regional collaborative efforts will achieve success in dealing with the threats.last_img read more

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New Task Force Supports Hurricane Irma Victims

first_imgBy Diálogo September 19, 2017 U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) established Joint Task Force-Leeward Islands (JTF-LI) to support Hurricane Irma relief efforts. The Leeward Islands comprise more than 10 islands located between the northeastern Caribbean Sea and the western Atlantic Ocean. “The goal of our efforts in St. Martin is straightforward,” said U.S. Marine Corps Colonel Michael Samarov, the commander of JTF-LI. The governments of France and the Netherlands, who share the island of Saint Martin, requested the U.S. support to help the disaster relief operation led by the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA). Hurricane Irma was the first Category 5 hurricane to strike the Leeward Islands in decades. “We want to save lives and ease human suffering and also augment civilian emergency response capabilities until our efforts are no longer necessary,” said Col. Samarov. JTF-LI is equipped with several disaster relief capabilities, including command and control, humanitarian assessment, water production, and helicopter transportation. The U.S. National Hurricane Center described Hurricane Irma as the most powerful hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic. The hurricane reached the eastern Caribbean in early September. It made landfall on the island of Barbuda on September 6th before passing near the Bahamas, the Dominican Republic, and Haiti and making a secondary landfall in Cuba on September 9th. Irma brought destructive winds, heavy rainfall, and dangerous storm surge, resulting in at least 25 fatalities and causing significant infrastructure damage across the Caribbean region. Task force capabilities JTF-LI comprises about 300 U.S. military personnel and includes the support of eight helicopters, four C-130 Hercules aircraft, and the USNS Spearhead (T-EPF 1). Its personnel stem from the Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force-Southern Command, Joint Task Force-Bravo, and other SOUTHCOM elements. The task force is just one element of the U.S. response to Hurricane Irma and will remain in the affected area to support ongoing USAID/OFDA-led relief operations as long as the U.S. government deems necessary. “Hurricane Irma dealt a terrible blow to St. Martin,” said U.S. Navy Captain Steven Stacy, the mission commander of Southern Partnership Station-Expeditionary Fast Transport 2017, a SOUTHCOM-directed operation that was deployed in June by U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command /U.S. 4th Fleet. Capt. Stacy was onboard of the Spearhead supporting Navy humanitarian relief support in Saint Martin. “There have been fatalities, and much of the island’s infrastructure has been destroyed. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and communities that were affected by this storm. We are providing the heavy lift to support USAID and the French and Dutch governments’ humanitarian responses.” The USNS Spearhead first loaded humanitarian relief supplies at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay before reaching the port of the Franco-Dutch island, Saint Martin. While in port at Guantanamo Bay, the Spearhead loaded 50,000 gallons of fuel, 81,000 bottles of water and 1,000 ready-to-eat meals. The fuel is to be used for reverse osmosis water purification systems being sent to St. Martin. “We are doing humanitarian support for the hurricane affecting the Caribbean,” said U.S. Air Force Captain Scott Szalejko, a C-17 Globemaster III pilot with the 437th Airlift Wing/15th Airlift Squadron. The 437th Airlift Wing´s crew members traveled to Mountain Home in Idaho to transport a mobile air traffic control tower to support the Caribbean islands affected by the hurricane. The tower was provided by the Federal Aviation Administration, and was requested by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide relief to St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. “Our thoughts and prayers are with those who have suffered a loss during this time… We are honored to help in any way we can,” said Col. Samarov.last_img read more

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Cuban Agents Advise Nicaraguan Military

first_imgWomen members of the “Mothers of April” association attend mass in honor of their children killed during the protests against the government of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega on mother’s day celebration in Managua on May 30, 2019. (Photo by INTI OCON / AFP) security and stability of countries throughout the region,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told the press. “The Cuban regime has for years exported its tactics of intimidation, repression, and violence.”On November 13, 2018, the Nicaraguan Congress authorized the entry of boats, aircraft, and military personnel from Cuba, Russia, and Venezuela in the second semester of 2019 to train and exchange experiences. The Nicaraguan Army will also be able to deploy military personnel in nations that will send their officers with the same purposes. Every six months, the Nicaraguan government renews the entry of foreign troops and military equipment to the country.“The diplomatic support Nicaragua receives from Russia, Venezuela, and Cuba severely undercuts international efforts to apply pressure on the Ortega regime,” said the U.S. Center for Strategic and International Studies in its December 2018 report “Lessons from Venezuela for Nicaragua.”“Although Cuban advisers openly intervene in Nicaragua posing as tourists or covertly, the international community should join efforts to confront and block the Ortega-Murillo regime’s authoritarian actions,” Serrano concluded. By Julieta Pelcastre/Diálogo August 10, 2019 According to the Nicaraguan Institute of Tourism, more than 5,000 Cubans arrived in Nicaragua during the first five months of 2019, an increase of almost 900 percent compared to the 566 who arrived in the country in 2018. Far from being attracted to the country’s touristic landmarks, most Cubans are there for covert activities to help President Daniel Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, remain in power.On May 30, Nicaraguan newspaper La Prensa reported that 200 advisers from the Cuban Intelligence Directorate operate regularly with the Nicaraguan Armed Forces and provide training to police and Customs and Prison System Directorate officials. Some advisers arrived in the country in 2007, but that number increased exponentially after the April 2018 uprising, which left hundreds of protesters dead, missing, and imprisoned, and led thousands of Nicaraguans to go into exile.“Cuban strategists are capable of neutralizing internal dissidents in the most brutal way and maintaining the dual Ortega-Murillo dictatorship,” said Jorge Serrano, an academic at the Peruvian Center for Higher National Studies. “Cuba deploys political and military intelligence and counterintelligence advisers in military bases and in key situations for political and economic power in Nicaragua,” Serrano told Diálogo.Aníbal Toruño, head of Nicaraguan Radio Darío, told Panamanian newspaper Panam that service members fly into the country on commercial flights among Cuban migrants who seek to escape the island and head to the United States. “This is a covert way of sending intelligence agents and advisers allied to Ortega’s service, at a time of increased fear over the idea that sandinismo will remain in power,” he added.Although the Cuban regime considers Venezuela the crown jewel of resources, Nicaragua is in a strategic geographical location for the interests of the coalition that China, North Korea, Cuba, Iran, Nicaragua, Russia, and Venezuela comprise, Serrano said. “The Caribbean country is the strategic head of an ‘international-continental plan’ that seeks to defend the presence of leftist forces in Latin America to the very end,” he said.He pointed out that socialist leader Raúl Castro and Cuban Interior Minister Julio César Gandarilla run and operate the political advice strategy of radical, violent, systematic, and selective repression in Nicaragua. He also added that this is the same maneuver Cuban political leaders, military, and intelligence institutions use to support Nicolás Maduro internally. “These strategists do not advise from a distance, they do so onsite.”During the May 29 forum the Cuba Justice Commission held in San José, Costa Rica, Nicaraguan exiles denounced the increase of Cuban military personnel in repressive operations by the Ortega regime. During this event, former Nicaraguan service member Carlos Zamorán told the commission that the Cuban presence among the Nicaraguan military dates back to 1980. “The military were supposed to be advisers, but they were prepared to torture and kill farmers.”“Cuba’s behavior in the Western Hemisphere undermines thelast_img read more

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