Peruvian Military trains to prepare for disasters

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Between April 21 and May 2, the Peruvian armed forces orchestrated the “Cooperation III” multinational military exercise, which was carried out in the coastal cities of Lima and Pisco. The goal was to prepare the Peruvian armed forces on how to respond in case a natural disaster strikes the Andean nation – the military units involved in the exercise carried out maneuvers like delivering humanitarian aid and transporting cargo and emergency personnel, as well as search and rescue operations. ”Cooperation III” was carried out under the auspices of the Sistema de Cooperación de Las Fuerzas Aereas Americanas (SICOFAA, Cooperation System among the American Air Forces).

The hypothetical scenario was what would happen if an earthquake and a tsunami occurred in the coastal region between the two aforementioned cities. This scenario hits home to most Peruvians, as tremors are a normal occurrence in the country, including a severe quake in 2007 which hit both Lima and Pisco.
The Peruvian Air Force hosted the event and provided a variety of military hardware that included an An-32B transport aircraft and two Mi-17 helicopters, among others. The bases that were utilized for the exercise were the Grupo Aereo No 8 and Grupo Aereo N 51, located in Lima and Pisco, respectively.

This drill took on an international dimension as, even though the hypothetical disaster took place in coastal Peru, units from various regional countries were also present throughout the lengthy-maneuvers. The goal was to improve coordination between Peru and friendly governments so that, should a natural disaster occur in the near future, it will be easier for Peruvian disaster and security agencies to communicate and coordinate with international entities.

As for the international units that were present, Colombia sent a delegation of 25 military personnel, plus two aircraft, a King 350 and a Casa 295, the latter which served as an air bridge between Lima and Pisco for quickly transporting humanitarian aid. Meanwhile, Canada deployed a C-130J aircraft and one CH-149 Cormorant helicopter. An April 22 press release by the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) explains that: “this deployment highlights two milestones for the RCAF: it is the first time a CH-149 Cormorant has been transported by a CC-177 Globemaster III and it is the first time a Cormorant has been deployed outside of North America.” (The Globemaster is part of the 429 Transport Squadron at 8 Wing Trenton, Ontario.) As for the U.S., Washington sent 30 airmen from the West Virginia National Guard’s 130th Airlift Wing as well as two transport aircraft, the C-130 Hercules.

The recently-concluded exercises that took place in Peru and are the third installment of the Cooperation military maneuvers. The first such exercise, “Cooperation I,” took place in Chile in 2010, while the second, “Cooperation II,” was hosted by Argentina in 2013.

_The recent Cooperation III exercises in Peru (Video: FUERZA AÈREA DEL PERU/YouTube)_

Certainly, it is critically important for Peru’s civilian and security agencies to constantly be prepared in case a disaster occurs since, sadly, the Andean nation is used to them. In May 1970, a devastating earthquake, 7.9 in the Richter scale, killed over 70,000 people in Peru’s Ancash region. More recently, as previously noted, an earthquake hit Peru’s coast in August 2007, which had a magnitude of 7.9 on the Richter scale. The quake was felt in Lima and tragically, several southern provinces received the full force of the quake. Specifically, the coastal city of Pisco, major tourist destination, was virtually destroyed by the shock as well as the tsunami that occurred afterwards (waves around the southern city of Paracas reached five meters in height). While the loss of life was relatively low for such a disaster (595 people perished), there were 2,300 injured while 76 thousand houses were destroyed.

In other words, it is a welcome development that Peru hosted the “Cooperation III” exercises, as this will aid the coordination and preparation a natural disaster. Sadly, the question is not if an earthquake will occur in Peru, but rather when.

This past November 2013, a strong tremor, 5.6 on the Richter scale, hit Lima and several southern provinces, while a stronger one, 6.2 on the Richter scale, hit the Peruvian coast around the Pisco region this past March. While none of them were destructive, they alarmed the population. Hence, governmental, military and civilian readiness is essential.

You can follow *W. Alejandro Sanchez* on his Geopolitics & Geosecurity blog and on Twitter: @W_Alex_Sanchez Peruvian Military is preparing for a natural disaster

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