The Royal Gibraltar Regiment recently deployed one of its officers to Santiago in Chile. Major Timothy Cumming deployed from July 12/August 2 to Santiago to assist in the delivery of some critical Pre-Deployment Training (PDT). This training was delivered to members of the Chilean Armed Forces that were going to make up the latest United Nations Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) contingent.
Half of those attending the course consisted of Army personnel and the other half were Marines from La Infantería Marina. Major Cumming was attached to the Chilean Peacekeeping Support Operations (PSO) School – CECOPAC (Centro Conjunto para Operaciones de Paz de Chile).
All lessons were delivered in Spanish, which was the critical factor and Major Cumming had the opportunity to exploit this unique language capability that the majority of RG personnel possess, to the fullest.
The first half of the deployment saw classroom-based lessons take a central role at the CECOPAC headquarters in La Reina district of Santiago. The course then moved away from the capital to Viña del Mar, Fuerte Aguayo, located along the coast and the home of the Infantería Marina.
A week of practical training and a final test exercise was run from this area. All members of the course went through a thorough set of practical assessments out in the field; from real time observation posts that oversaw a mock-up of a UN ‘Buffer Zone’ area, to mobile patrols that encountered complex road traffic accidents and local population incidents disputing passage and ownership rights within the contested ‘Buffer Zone’.
All in all a very successful PDT package which culminated in a Presentation Ceremony by the General Officer Commanding of the Marines, Vice Admiral David Hardy Videla (Commandante General del Cuerpo de Infantería de Marina, Chile).
On returning from Chile, Major Cumming said: “Being bi-lingual and having operational experience in the conventional and stability operation realms was something that the Chileans positively exploited to the fullest.”
Major Cumming is the first of four instructors that will be going out to support confirmed PDT tasks in Chile, in the coming months.