By Nastasia Barceló/Diálogo June 22, 2017 A course on VIP Close Protection was held at the Uruguayan School for Peacekeeping Operations (ENOPU, per its Spanish acronym), in May. ENOPU instructors and personnel from the U.S. Embassy in Montevideo coordinated and executed the event with the purpose of providing personnel with the knowledge, skills, and abilities needed to successfully protect VIPs on the ground in peacekeeping missions and in high-risk areas, when the duties to be carried out in a peacekeeping operation demand it. A total of 47 students participated in the course: 32 from the Uruguayan Army, 14 civil servants from the president’s security detail and the Ministry of Interior, and one participant from Mexico. Each course at ENOPU has up to six slots reserved for foreign students. The class content was divided into theory and practice and focused on the deactivation of improvised explosive devices and car bombs, and on putting protective measures into practice for vehicles and buildings in high-risk areas. Uruguayan Army Lieutenant Colonel Alejandro Martínez, the assistant director of ENOPU, explained that the topics developed in this course are geared toward training teams to protect VIPs, and on unit organization, the roles of each staff member tasked with protection duties, and their responsibilities and equipment. “Topics related to assessing the terrain, protecting people and residences, tactical communications, protective equipment, field medicine, and evasive driving were also developed,” Lt. Col. Martínez explained. Among the activities, two hands-on exercises were performed under the supervision of instructors from the 14th Parachute Infantry Battalion of the Uruguayan Army, staff from the U.S. Embassy, and ENOPU instructors. The exercises consisted of performing operational procedures for protecting VIPs in high-risk areas. “This was the most important part for the students, as they were able to partially apply the skills they had learned throughout the course, such as some of the resources of field medicine,” Lt. Col. Martínez emphasized. Uruguayan Army Colonel Niver Pereira, the director of ENOPU, explained to Diálogo that they have been promoting the VIP Protection course since 2013, which is not taught in consecutive years. “For example, in the 2018 academic offering, it’s not planned to be held. It’s just as important to underscore that over the years, we have accumulated knowledge and experience to be able to continue improving and modernizing these practice exercises according to new trends,” he explained. ENOPU ENOPU’s chief predecessor, founded in 2008, is the National Peacekeeping Operations School of the Uruguayan Army, in existence since 1998. Following the creation of ENOPU, personnel from the three branches of the Uruguayan Armed Forces were brought in, thereby making the school a dependency of the Ministry of Defense. ENOPU has 288 instructors charged with organizing all of the activities. ENOPU has a fixed series of courses taught year after year. “Their duration varies from one to four weeks. They are short courses focused on the needs that the armed forces, and other state and non-state actors have when they find themselves operating in a peacekeeping mission,” Col. Pereira added. According to Col. Pereira, the most sought-after courses for the Uruguayan Armed Forces and those from abroad, are Protection of Civilians, Contingents in Peacekeeping Operations, Press Correspondent, and Close Protection. “In the coming years, we hope to expand the number of training courses, and it is with that objective in mind that we are working jointly with various international organizations, such as the United Nations and other state agencies, such as the ministries of Interior, of Foreign Affairs, and of Defense,” Col. Pereira added. In addition to the courses, ENOPU offers a series of conferences and lectures. “This year, more than 10 lectures are planned on issues such as gender, threat identification, logistics, intelligence, and protecting socially vulnerable populations, among others,” Col. Pereira concluded.