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U.S. Army South, Chile kick off PKO-Americas command post exercise

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Brig. Gen. Manuel Ortiz, Jr. (right) speaks during the Peacekeeping Operations-Americas 2012 command post exercise opening ceremony  in Santiago, Chile, May 7. Brig. Gen. Manuel Ortiz, Jr. (right) speaks during the Peacekeeping Operations-Americas 2012 command post exercise opening ceremony in Santiago, Chile, May 7.

Santiago, Chile, May 7, 2012 – U.S. Army South joined its Chilean army partners and 14 other partner nations for the official start of the Peacekeeping Operations-Americas (PKO-A) 2012 command post exercise (CPX) during a ceremony here May 7.

The opening ceremony was the culmination of exceptional preparation by representatives from each partner nation, said CPX director Brig. Gen. Leonardo Martinez Menanteau, the Chilean Joint Staff International Operations director.

“A lot of hard work has been done in organizing this exercise in order to ensure success,” said Martinez.

Martinez’s fellow CPX director, Brig. Gen. Manuel Ortiz, Jr., Army South deputy commanding general, agreed.

“(The exercise participants) have done a lot of work and are well prepared for the exercise,” said Ortiz.

U.S. Army South, as the Army service component command of U.S. Southern Command, conducts the annual exercise in support of U.N. peacekeeping initiatives in Central and South America and the Caribbean.

The five day CPX, designed to enhance communication and challenge the participants' abilities to implement and sustain U.N. peacekeeping standards and to ensure participants are prepared to respond to peacekeeping operational challenges, is the last portion of the four-phased PKO-A 2012 exercise taking place this year in Chile and the Dominican Republic March 19 - May 11.

The first phase of PKO-A 2012 was a battalion level training conducted March 19-23 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, the second phase was a junior leaders' training April 2-6 at the Military Operation Urban Training Facility in Fort Aguayo, Chile, and the third phase was a senior leader staff seminar in Santiago, Chile April 30 – May 2.

In addition to Chile and the United States, more than 300 representatives from Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Honduras, Ecuador, El Salvador, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay are participating in PKO-A 2012.

According to exercise leaders, training together with partner nations is more effective than nations training individually.

“This helps in developing comprehensive knowledge and a comprehensive point of view so that we all can work jointly and in a combined fashion,” said Martinez. “There are some things here that may be very new to some but well known for others.”

Ortiz said working side-by-side with partner nation counterparts is not only about  learning from each other, but strengthening partnerships.

“I’m very proud to be here with them in this international environment,” said Ortiz. “In my opinion, I think the most valuable thing about this is to know each other for the future, both professionally and personally.”

The multinational exercise supports the U.S. Department of State's Global Peace Operations Initiative, which encourages peacekeeping efforts in Central and South America and the Caribbean.  This initiative develops and enhances national training capabilities and equips potential peacekeeping units for deployment. 

The venue also enables participating U.S. service members to learn from nongovernmental organizations and civilian and military experts from the participating countries. 

Ultimately, exercises such as Peacekeeping Operations-Americas help build a strategic framework of relationships with partner nations in the region, while working to further improve interoperability, security and stability.

Links to more information about PKO-A: 

News Release on Peacekeeping Operations Americas-2012

PKO-A Photos on Army South Facebook Page

Army Stand To! on Peacekeeping Operations Americas-2012

U.S. Southern Command Peacekeeping Support