Latin American and US ships participate in military exercises in Ecuador

Latin American and US ships participate in military exercises in Ecuador

Manta is the venue for the 61st edition of these maneuvers that seek, among other issues, to improve security cooperation.

By Néstor Aguilera
06 November 2020 10:45 AM

The city of Manta, in Ecuador, is the headquarters of this multinational maritime exercise Unitas. Photo: United States Embassy in Ecuador

QUITO – Latin American ships set sail, on Wednesday, November 4, in the Ecuadorian city of Manta to participate in the sixty-first edition of the Unitas Multinational Exercise, which is held annually in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The city of Manta, in Ecuador, is the headquarters of this multinational maritime exercise that is carried out, among other topics, to improve security cooperation.

Generally, countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, the United States, Peru, the Dominican Republic and Uruguay intervene. However, due to the pandemic generated by COVID-19, this edition only has the presence of ships from four countries.

Daniel Gínez, commander of Naval Operations, Armada del Ecuador affirmed that “it is pleasant to see how we can work together, how we can work with a coordination between the navies, which is recurrent in Unitas.”

The Ecuadorian Naval Force explained that this exercise improves cooperation between the navies of the hemisphere and the United States Southern Command, to develop interoperability.

USNS Burlington, an American ship. [Photo: United States Embassy in Ecuador]

One of the participating ships is the USNS Burlington, a United States expeditionary rapid transport vessel.

Todd Kutkiewicz, USNS Burlington commander said “we are happy to be here to participate in Unitas.”

Captain Andrés Monsalve Agudelo, commander of the Colombian Navy ship participating in the event, said that the exercise “is where we sailors test ourselves and show what we are made of,” many more “with friendly navies.”

In addition, he pointed out that there are vessels of different classes and that it is a “challenge that we as marinas have to be able to operate together.”

Clear objectives

Despite the criticism of the military exercise, due to its high economic costs, in social networks, the former director of Intelligence of the Ecuadorian Army Mario Pazmiño explained to the Voice of America that there are threats, such as organized crime and illegal fishing on the high seas , which justify it.

For the expert, the Unitas 2020 exercise is basically oriented towards the international cooperation of all countries that have or are experiencing regional or global threats and that, according to him, in this case, all countries that are in the Pacific basin have two major threats.

The first, according to him, is “the presence of the Chinese fleet in the Pacific Ocean and the predatory action that this fleet has been, until it ends in the Galapagos area and, later, it goes to the open sea”, which, he adds, “it is directly affecting the economy, on the one hand, and also the maritime resources that each of the countries have.”

The other issue, Pazmiño explains, is related to the presence and activity of drug trafficking, “which has been increasing in the last five years, especially in Colombia and Ecuador. Let us remember that Ecuador is no longer a transit country and is now a a country of collection and international distribution platform “.

In this sense, the former Intelligence Director of the Ecuadorian Army, explains that the effects of these threats are more costly than the same maritime exercises.

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“It is necessary for the naval forces, in this case, to act jointly in the face of an extracontinental threat or a global threat that is affecting all countries equally (…) The second point is that individually each country does not have the necessary technology or resources to face these threats, ”Pazmiño said.

The Unitas 2020 maneuvers, which were inaugurated this Tuesday, will run until November 12.

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