Weekend Pick: Ski Resorts are Open, So Get to Shredding!

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first_imgAround here, as soon as the first leaves start to turn, then drop from the trees we have only one thing in mind: shredding. While it is true that shredding dirt on a mountain bike or taking a long hike is still a great way to enjoy the crisp autumn weather, winter is always in the back of the mind, nagging you to check your gear and break out the goggles. Once the trees are bare, their bounty littered across the ground perfect for schooshing and daydreaming the drifts of leaves are drifts of snow, that old feeling begins to come back.Once the first snow of the season arrives, the anticipation really heats up. Can you feel it heating up right now?The Blue Ridge saw its first significant snowfall this past week, with the mountains of North Carolina receiving a few inches. Combined with a drop in temperatures that allowed resorts to blow copious amounts of snow in a short period of time, a few slopes were opened to the public. It may only be mid-November, but ski season has officially arrived. Sugar Mountain officially opened on Wednesday, November 13th running one lift and two slopes and Cataloochee Ski Area opens today November 14th with six runs from mid-station and three lifts. Cataloochee also offers a One Run, We Refund deal where if you are not satisfied after taking one run, they will refund your lift ticket purchase. So really, there is no excuse not to hit the slopes this weekend.While this may not sound like much in the way of skiable terrain, it is a great sign of the winter to come. Early snow and cold temperatures will help keep snow on the slopes through the winter and into the spring. Plus, it is a smart idea to ease into the season with a few casual laps before going bell to bell and getting as much vert as possible. Early season is the time to get the ski legs back underneath you, not push the limits of your ability.So, there you have it folks, ski resorts open in North Carolina this weekend, so it’s time to shred.View Cataloochee Ski Area in a larger maplast_img read more

Beans, Bikes, and a Bald Guy

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first_img“That coffee you’re drinking? The guy who grew that got shot in the head last week.”The couple casually sipping on their just-purchased cup of joe pause, unsure of how to react to the bald man standing before them. Is he joking? Is he serious? For a moment, the four of us stand on the front porch of Bald Guy Brew with only the sound of cars idling through downtown Valle Crucis, N.C., to break the silence. The woman nervously laughs and takes another sip.“What’s in your cup matters,” he continues, patting a sack of unroasted Mexican coffee beans that has just arrived. Considering the blunt delivery of his message, the couple recovers surprisingly well and begins to ask questions to the bald guy.That bald guy is the Bald Guy of Bald Guy Brew Roasting Company. His name is Don Cox, and he’s just about as complex of an individual as the third-world coffees he roasts in his little shop in western North Carolina. An Appalachian State University alumnus, carpenter, priest, aspiring cyclist, and “grunt” of Bald Guy Brew, Cox’s diverse array of life experiences and interests can be seen in every corner of the coffee shop.Framed photographs of Rwandan refugees adorn the walls, bike jerseys hang off the handlebars of Cox’s commuter ride, and a stack of coffee sacks from around the globe sit in a chest-deep pile by the main roaster, Lucille.“She’s got a nice groove, like B.B. King’s guitar,” Cox says, nodding toward the roasting machine that’s loudly churning freshly roasted coffee beans.The machine isn’t tucked away in some back room of the coffee shop. Instead, Cox has it on display so customers can see the roasting process, from green coffee bean to delicious caffeinated beverage. Cox’s wife Shannon is a schoolteacher, so he’s well versed in the ways of education. There’s a story behind every photograph, a lesson in each empty sack of coffee, but his main platform for helping educate others on “what’s in your cup,” is his bike.“I’m not a cyclist,” Cox says. “I’ve fallen off my bike more than I’ve ever ridden it. Plus, a bald guy in spandex…bad.”Don’t let his modesty fool you. Cox has spent his fair share of hours in the saddle. After diving into the coffee growing industry during a three-year stint in Mexico, Cox was invited to work with genocide survivors in Rwanda where he came up with the Beans for Bikes initiative. In the spring of 2011, Cox hopped on a bike in Wrightsville Beach, N.C., and pedaled his way home to Boone with 100 pounds of Rwandan coffee on board. His mission? For every mile he rode, a backer would pledge $1 to the initiative to help fund the production of bikes for coffee growers in Rwanda.“It was amazing…that I made it,” Cox says laughing. “I helped raise over $5,000. I think I was younger and dumber. But, now I’m older and dumber so I’m going to do it again.”This fall, Cox plans to hop back on the bike and reverse his trip, this time pedaling to Wrightsville Beach from Boone with 100lbs of Costa Rican coffee. The goal now is to raise funds to create a research and development farm in Costa Rica. The farm will serve as an educational project to help coffee growers, which will in turn create a standard to open up the doors for market access. If you’ve ever wondered what “fair trade” really means, this is it.“We exist to empower coffee growing communities rather than exploit them,” Cox says. “Coffee has to be doing good things for us and it has to be good. So if it’s good, and it’s doing good, it’s kind of a win.”Since starting his business in 2011, Cox has made every effort to provide eco-friendly, socially responsible, artisanal coffee. From the bio-fueled, solar-powered Dodge Sprinter van where Bald Guy Brew began to the 4,500 pounds of coffee beans that have now been distributed to wholesale clients entirely by bike (3,800 of those by Cox himself), this bald guy doesn’t just talk the talk – he rides it too.“Why do I ride bikes to promote Bald Guy’s mission of doing good? It’s because if I walk carrying coffee it will take too long,” he says. “I think small businesses can make a difference without having a lot of money. You have to be who you say you are and do what you say.”It’s a lot easier said than done. From coffee shareholder politics to clogging up the injectors of his van while trying to make his own biofuel, Cox has built his business from the ground up, largely through trial and error.“I have a 9-year-old and a 12-year-old who were six and nine during that Beans for Bikes ride,” Cox says. “They saw their old man humpin’ up a mountain on a bike with a bunch of coffee trying to make a difference in the world. I just want my boys to know that there’s another way to live. We don’t have the ability to write fat checks, but I have a bike.”last_img read more

Eleven Colombians Claimed for Extradition to the United States are Arrested

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first_imgBy Dialogo June 01, 2009 Bogota, 29 May (EFE). – Colombian authorities arrested for drug trafficking activities eleven alleged members of a money laundering network who are claimed for extradition by the United States, the Attorney General’s Office reported today. The arrestees were linked to the “Comba” or “Combatiente” drug trafficking ring, led by “Luis Enrique Calle Serna” (alias), said the judge, noting that the eleven are accused of laundering $100 million. Calle, one of the five most wanted drug traffickers in Colombia, succeeded Wilber Varela (“Jabón”), who was murdered over a year ago in Venezuela, as leader of a drug trafficking ring in the southwest of the country. The group wanted for extradition is composed of two women and nine men, who were arrested on Thursday during a raid by the prosecution which was supported by the Department of Administrative Security (DAS, state). The prosecution said in a statement that members of this money laundering network “used the black market, physically transported money, and made wire transfers to multiple accounts in United States, Europe, Central America, Canada, and Mexico.” The eleven are sought for extradition by the District Court of Georgia (USA).last_img read more

USNS Comfort Completes Humanitarian Mission

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first_imgBy Dialogo September 12, 2011 The hospital ship delivered medical, dental, veterinary and engineering assistance in the Caribbean Basin, Central America and South America. “First and foremost (the mission) demonstrates the United States’ commitment to the Caribbean Basin and Central and South America,” Navy Capt. Brian Nickerson, Continuing Promise mission commander, said. From April through September, members of Continuing Promise 2011 provided medical services in surgery, neurology, emergency medicine, orthopedics, anesthesiology, dentistry, family medicine, pediatrics, preventive medicine, diagnostics and veterinarian support. Doctors and staff saw nearly 70,000 patients and performed more than 1,100 surgeries in nine countries: Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haití, Jamaica, Nicaragua and Peru. The crew’s doctors came from the Navy, Army, Air Force and U.S. Public Health Service. Also onboard were civilian marines, nongovernment organization volunteers and partner-nation military members. The USNS Comfort, at 894-feet long, is three football fields long and one wide, with 250 hospital beds and an 850-person team. Comfort arrived at its final mission stop in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on August 18. There, the ship’s crew treated about 1,450 patients and performed 15 surgeries before Tropical Storm Irene began to bear down on the island. “The relationships forged through operations like Continuing Promise fosters trust, collaboration, and cooperation with our friends and allies,” Nickerson said.last_img read more

LAAD 2012 Seeks New Proposals for Security

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first_imgBy Dialogo April 13, 2012 The event aims to provide a favorable atmosphere for discussion about a new vision for the security sector, according to which the participation of society and integration between the public and corporate sectors are increasingly becoming strategic factors in defining the guidelines to be followed. As a result, the program anticipates, besides the exhibition, that the 2nd LAAD Security Seminar will be held simultaneously. I find interesting the LAAD 2012 event and I would like to have access,through your magazine, if possible, to the discussions and resolutions of the plenary, especially those regarding the corporate security policies. Is there a website or electronic mail where I can cotact the organizers or directors of the LAAD event? Thanks and congratulations on the magazine The trade show, restricted to professionals in the sector and invited guests, will present the technical and scientific production and technological training offered by companies from all over the world, representing the main developers of cutting-edge solutions in a variety of segments, such as weaponry, communications systems, command-and-control systems, specialized vehicles, engineering, and services, among others. Over 150 companies, from 13 countries – China, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Holland, Israel, Italy, Poland, Russia, South Africa, Spain, and the United States – in addition to Brazil, have already confirmed their attendance. The issue of security, one of the pillars of the current federal administration and a topic increasingly present in Brazilian daily life, is winning a new space for debate and the presentation of solutions. Over 10,000 visitors are expected, including official delegations from Latin America, public-safety authorities from Brazil, security managers for large corporations, and providers of services and critical infrastructure. During the event, plenary meetings of the national councils that gather the authorities in the sector will be held. Between April 10 and 12, public agencies, businesses, and security specialists will gather in Riocentro, Rio de Janeiro, for LAAD (Latin America Aerospace and Defense) 2012 – Defense and Security International Exhibition. last_img read more

Anti-Drug Summit Brings Together Delegations from 59 Countries in Peru

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first_imgBy Dialogo June 26, 2012 On June 25 and 26, Lima welcomed representatives from 59 countries to debate strategies against drug trafficking in a region where the world’s largest cocaine producers are found. The event in Peru took place as the demand is growing on the part of several Latin American Governments for a comprehensive reform of the anti-drug strategy promoted by the United States for two decades, prioritizing repression. Peruvian President Ollanta Humala inaugurated the meeting, which was held behind closed doors in Lima and was attended by foreign ministers and delegations from 59 countries from five continents and representatives of ten international organizations. Peru’s top anti-drug official, Carmen Masías, the head of the Commission for Development and Life without Drugs, said prior to the conference that it would address the topic of reducing illegal drug use and the responsibility to be assigned to producing and consuming countries. The summit was attended by the secretary general of the Organization of American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza, who participated during the second day in a consultative meeting with the foreign ministers and heads of anti-drug offices of the hemispheric organization’s member countries. Washington, D.C., was represented by the top officials responsible for the fight against drugs in that country, State Department anti-drug official William Brownfield and Office of National Drug Control Policy director Gil Kerlikowske. According to Ricardo Soberón, the top anti-drug official in the first months of Humala’s administration, the panorama “is in major upheaval with countries that want reform; in effect, Mexico, Colombia, and Guatemala are proposing it, Argentina and Uruguay are changing their legislation, Ecuador and Venezuela have completely modified their criminal legislation.” Peru is going “against the current of the hemispheric trends that are calling for an evaluation of the results of the war on drugs, which has led to many deaths in the region,” he added. During the summit, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency presented a report that ranked Peru as the largest cocaine producer, in the view of Hugo Cabieses, a former deputy environment minister and an expert on drugs. Peru tops the list of cocaine producers even according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, which together with the U.S. State Department estimates its annual cocaine production at around 320 tons. That calculation is questioned by former drug czar Soberón, according to whom the figure is believed to fluctuate between 150 and 200 tons a year.last_img read more

Colombia Captures Drug Kingpin to Be Extradited to U.S.

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first_img On Aug. 8, near Medellín, Colombian authorities captured Erikson Vargas, alias Sebastián, considered one of the most important drug trafficking headmen in Colombia, head of drug organization Office of Envigado, which is known to maintain an alliance with the Mexican Los Zetas cartel and whose extradition to the United States is in process. Sebastian “is one of the most important criminals in recent years in Colombia,” assured Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzón at a press conference at the antinarcotics base in Bogotá, where the alleged drug trafficker arrived around noon from Medellín (400 kilometers northwest of the Colombian capital). Vargas directed the organization of drug traffickers and assassins that originated at the time of former Medellín cartel leader Pablo Escobar. Arrest warrants were issued for criminal conspiracy of aggravated murder, forced displacement, extortion and drug trafficking. The alleged drug trafficking kingpin had notably changed his physical appearance, indicated the police in a statement. The Office of Envigado has been “one of the organizations that have committed the most murders in the past decade,” said Pinzón. After his capture, President Juan Manuel Santos assured that he will be extradited to the United States, as has been done with other drug trafficking kingpins. “He has an order for extradition and we will extradite him” he said in a press conference. Pinzón stated Vargas’s arrest constitutes “a lethal blow” against the organization, adding that in past months they struck the mid-level members and “with this arrest, we cut the head off.” Vargas was detained in an estate near Medellín in an operation in which one of his associates resisted authorities and was killed, while others were detained, police said. Eight firearms, among them a grenade launcher, were seized at that location, Pinzón detailed. The Office of Envigado is an organization of drug traffickers and assassins that started operating in 1980 in Medellín at the command of Pablo Escobar. After the death of the lord, command went to Diego Fernando Murillo, alias Don Berna, a member of the paramilitary group United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC, extreme right). By Dialogo August 10, 2012last_img read more

Latin America Symposium Reveals Insights on Regional Politics and Economies

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first_imgBy Dialogo April 09, 2013 At a symposium about Latin America held in Miami, Colombian Minister of Defense Juan Carlos Pinzón said that most Colombians are no longer frightened by terrorism and organized crime. “Today, for the average Colombian citizen, terrorism is something that is seen on television but that no longer affects them directly,” Pinzón said to an audience of academics, diplomats, businessmen, university students, journalists, and military personnel that attended the event organized by the Center for Hemispheric Policy at the University of Miami. Pinzón attributed this change to the efforts made for over a decade, among which he recognized the progress made by the governments of Andrés Pastrana, Álvaro Uribe, and current President Juan Manuel Santos, as well as the boost given by Plan Colombia –which the United States carried out, calling it “a relatively small investment with a huge impact.” “Since Plan Colombia started, we increased training in special operations, technologies used for intelligence-gathering, counter drug efforts, as well as cooperation. As a result, we have seen a change in the threat we are confronting,” the minister said. According to Pinzón, who has been Minister of Defense for 19 months, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) had 21,000 combatants, as well as 20,000 militias in 2000. Between 2010 and 2011, that figure was reduced to 9,000 armed guerrillas and 10,000 militias, and by “late 2012, there were less than 8,000 armed terrorists, and 9,000 militias,” he stated. As for the future of peace talks with the FARC, the minister said, “personally, I think the battle against terrorist organizations will continue for several months, but no longer than five years, because if these individuals do not understand that this is their last chance, they will continue to weaken in their position to the extent that they will become no more than an ordinary criminal gang,” he concluded. The VIII Latin America Symposium, created by the Center for Hemispheric Policy at the University of Miami, also featured the participation of regional experts, who discussed topics such as the changing Latin American political environment, commercial relations between the United States and Latin America, the future of Venezuela, and the role of regional economies, namely those of Mexico, Brazil, Argentina and Chile, on the region as a whole. The topic of Venezuela, which captured the attention of participants and panelists, was addressed by Professor Javier Corrales from the Political Science School at Amherst College, in Massachusetts. According to the scholar, the leftist movement that was led by late President Hugo Chávez reached its peak, and is now in decline. Other participants, such as Brian Latell, a fellow researcher from the Institute for Cuban & Cuban-American Studies at the University of Miami, even said that if Nicolás Maduro was elected, he will face too many difficulties to keep ‘Chavism’ alive. Among the speakers was Brazilian Ambassador to the U.S. Mauro Vieira, who said that since 2000, the combination of an accelerated economic development, a low unemployment rate, and a controlled inflation in Brazil has favored the increase of national and foreign investment in the country. For example, the diplomat said that during 2012, a considerable increase in U.S. investments was observed in his country at the same time as Brazilian companies were seen investing in U.S. capital. “We are united by bonds that can be traced back to 1822, when the U.S. was the first country to recognize Brazil as a democratic state,” he said. The Brazilian Ambassador in Washington also stressed that the social policies applied by the governments of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff allowed 24 million people to step out of poverty, and 31 million others to become part of the middle class.last_img read more

Guatemalan Army to Gradually Retreat from Civilian Public Safety Tasks

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first_img Maj. Gen. Estrada Pérez: I don’t think so. In some areas, the drug traffickers take advantage of youths in gangs by distributing these weapons at low prices, and the gangs then become violent in one way or another. There is no direct or definite connection between the actions of gangs and those of drug traffickers. The Guatemalan Army depends on its Chief of Staff, who is responsible for developing and implementing all the policies and guidelines issued by the Ministry of National Defense and the General Commander of the Armed Forces, who is also the president. Major General Carlos Eduardo Estrada Pérez is the Guatemalan Army’s current Chief of Staff, and his role involves creating operational plans and training for Guatemala’s Army. Diálogo met with Major General Estrada during the XII Caribbean Nation’s Security Conference (CANSEC) 2015 held from January 20-23 in Nassau, Bahamas, where he discussed the main challenges that Guatemala’s Army currently faces. Diálogo: Does that mean that there may be a greater number of exchanges held between Guatemala and other Caribbean countries for information, joint military exercises, etc.? Diálogo: Do you mean that the Guatemalan Army will retreat from undertaking public safety activities by the end of 2016? Diálogo: Regarding your comment that Guatemala is a transit country and now also a storage warehouse, do you think that one of the consequences of this is the weapons that arms traffickers leave behind, that then fall in the hands of young Guatemalan gang members? Diálogo: Does that mean that there may be a greater number of exchanges held between Guatemala and other Caribbean countries for information, joint military exercises, etc.? Diálogo: What is your opinion on the current war on drugs by the Guatemalan Armed Forces? Major General Carlos Eduardo Estrada Pérez: The drug problem has been evolving and changing. They are very skilled in that sense, when we try to do something against the drug traffickers, they sprout in another area under a different mechanism. Guatemala has always been considered a transit area because of its geographical location, a place where the aircraft fuel arrives and where the fuel from vessels also arrives. So by definition, this makes us a transit area. But beyond considering the activities of the security forces successful; we have to understand that Guatemala has become not only a bridge, but also a warehouse. Lately, Guatemala has become a country that produces synthetic drugs. We have been seizing precursor chemicals often; we have been finding and dismantling secret laboratories. This is how we have handled drug trafficking and consequently, how Guatemala has been affected by it. Lastly, though on a smaller scale, but always present, is money laundering. These are the correlative effects of the drug trafficking activity in Guatemala. Diálogo: Do you mean that the Guatemalan Army will retreat from undertaking public safety activities by the end of 2016? Maj. Gen. Estrada Pérez: I don’t think so. In some areas, the drug traffickers take advantage of youths in gangs by distributing these weapons at low prices, and the gangs then become violent in one way or another. There is no direct or definite connection between the actions of gangs and those of drug traffickers. By Dialogo February 12, 2015 Diálogo: We know that drugs are a problem, especially for Central America. How has this problem really affected Guatemala? Maj. Gen. Estrada Pérez: The Constitution of Guatemala establishes that the Army is responsible for external and internal security, as derived from the Peace Agreements. So we began by strengthening our National Police Units. Within the Peace Agreements, it was established that the Army would not get involved in what corresponds to internal security, this being a public security matter. Following an increase in common crime, organized crime, and violent activities generated by drug trafficking, however, the security forces, in this case the National Police, has become overwhelmed. But, during the current term of [our] President Otto Perez Molina, the police have recovered, strengthened, and have increased in numbers. We are projecting that by next year, 2016; the Army will gradually retreat from the public safety activities. Maj. Gen. Estrada Pérez: We are attending on a special invitation from General John Kelly, commander of U.S. Southern Command, who recently visited Guatemala and invited us to attend this conference.It’s important for us to attend this conference where the Caribbean nations are integrating, coordinating, exchanging information, and cooperating. It is something we have had in Central America for many years through the Central American Armed Forces Conference that has been working very well. Maj. Gen. Estrada Pérez: We are attending on a special invitation from General John Kelly, commander of U.S. Southern Command, who recently visited Guatemala and invited us to attend this conference.It’s important for us to attend this conference where the Caribbean nations are integrating, coordinating, exchanging information, and cooperating. It is something we have had in Central America for many years through the Central American Armed Forces Conference that has been working very well. Diálogo: Regarding your comment that Guatemala is a transit country and now also a storage warehouse, do you think that one of the consequences of this is the weapons that arms traffickers leave behind, that then fall in the hands of young Guatemalan gang members? Diálogo: What is your opinion on the current war on drugs by the Guatemalan Armed Forces? Maj. Gen. Estrada Pérez: Yes. I would also like to add that the Army, as a military force, currently has a small participation in citizen security activities because three public safety squadrons have been created. So, we have public safety squads that are shaped by personnel who have already served in the military and others that have not, but go through a training period. These units are directly involved in supporting the National Police in public security tasks. Major General Carlos Eduardo Estrada Pérez: The drug problem has been evolving and changing. They are very skilled in that sense, when we try to do something against the drug traffickers, they sprout in another area under a different mechanism. Guatemala has always been considered a transit area because of its geographical location, a place where the aircraft fuel arrives and where the fuel from vessels also arrives. So by definition, this makes us a transit area. But beyond considering the activities of the security forces successful; we have to understand that Guatemala has become not only a bridge, but also a warehouse. Lately, Guatemala has become a country that produces synthetic drugs. We have been seizing precursor chemicals often; we have been finding and dismantling secret laboratories. This is how we have handled drug trafficking and consequently, how Guatemala has been affected by it. Lastly, though on a smaller scale, but always present, is money laundering. These are the correlative effects of the drug trafficking activity in Guatemala. Maj. Gen. Estrada Pérez: Possibly, because even though, for example, the Dominican Republic isn’t in Central America, it is also a member of CEFAC. This means that we, the four Central American countries that compose CEFAC [El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua], have a close relationship with the armed forces of several countries in the region. Maj. Gen. Estrada Pérez: The Constitution of Guatemala establishes that the Army is responsible for external and internal security, as derived from the Peace Agreements. So we began by strengthening our National Police Units. Within the Peace Agreements, it was established that the Army would not get involved in what corresponds to internal security, this being a public security matter. Following an increase in common crime, organized crime, and violent activities generated by drug trafficking, however, the security forces, in this case the National Police, has become overwhelmed. But, during the current term of [our] President Otto Perez Molina, the police have recovered, strengthened, and have increased in numbers. We are projecting that by next year, 2016; the Army will gradually retreat from the public safety activities. Diálogo: We know that drugs are a problem, especially for Central America. How has this problem really affected Guatemala? Maj. Gen. Estrada Pérez: Possibly, because even though, for example, the Dominican Republic isn’t in Central America, it is also a member of CEFAC. This means that we, the four Central American countries that compose CEFAC [El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua], have a close relationship with the armed forces of several countries in the region. How and why can this be??? In order for crime to increase, if they take away citizen security, what kind of security will we have left??? The police??? Corrupt accomplices of organized crime.. No thank you. A country without an army is like a mutilated human body with both arms cut off, why do we have to do what the foreign countries want in Guatemala when Guatemala is ours. Maj. Gen. Estrada Pérez: Yes. I would also like to add that the Army, as a military force, currently has a small participation in citizen security activities because three public safety squadrons have been created. So, we have public safety squads that are shaped by personnel who have already served in the military and others that have not, but go through a training period. These units are directly involved in supporting the National Police in public security tasks. The Guatemalan Army depends on its Chief of Staff, who is responsible for developing and implementing all the policies and guidelines issued by the Ministry of National Defense and the General Commander of the Armed Forces, who is also the president. Major General Carlos Eduardo Estrada Pérez is the Guatemalan Army’s current Chief of Staff, and his role involves creating operational plans and training for Guatemala’s Army. Diálogo met with Major General Estrada during the XII Caribbean Nation’s Security Conference (CANSEC) 2015 held from January 20-23 in Nassau, Bahamas, where he discussed the main challenges that Guatemala’s Army currently faces. Diálogo: Guatemala has historically participated in the Central American Regional Security Conference [CENTSEC], why are you participating in this year’s Caribbean Nation’s Security Conference [CANSEC]? Diálogo: Guatemala has historically participated in the Central American Regional Security Conference [CENTSEC], why are you participating in this year’s Caribbean Nation’s Security Conference [CANSEC]? last_img read more

Inside the KC-390

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first_imgBy Roberto Caiafa/Diálogo May 11, 2017 The KC-390, the result of an order placed by the Brazilian Air Force with demanding requirements, is an aircraft with a robust airframe, equipped with high wings fixed with engines positioned to avoid debris intake, a T-shaped tail with an automated loading ramp, main landing gear stowed within large aerodynamic structures with tailor-made doors, lateral doors for parachute launching equipped with special aerodynamic deflectors, a wide nose (housing a modern radar), and dual wheel landing gear. Designed to transport up to 26 tons, the KC-390 achieves that performance thanks to a pair of V-2500 engines – the same type used in various commercial jets. An added bonus to this popular propulsion model engine is its wide offering of parts and services, in addition to the ease of maintenance. “The modern and spacious cockpit has large windows that afford the crew great situational awareness,” stated Valtécio Alencar, Communications executive at Embraer Defense & Security (EDS, as per its Portuguese acronym). Alencar was in charge of presenting the aircraft at LAAD Defence and Security 2017. “The instrumentation panel, which is dominated by large colored screens, uses Pro Line Fusion digital avionics technology. The fly-by-wire flight controls are sidestick, with advanced ergonomics and a lot of comfort for the crew who have air conditioning and electronically controlled seats,” he explained. The cargo compartment, which is the plane’s reason for being, is very well equipped. Its multipurpose deck uses the concepts of turning, opening, clicking, locking, closing, attaching, and anchoring, all taken to their maximum potential. To change from a flat cargo floor to roller configuration, all that is needed is to turn the guides and the conversion is done. The same thing is done to air drop cargo on pallets: open, lock, and leave the guides in position, and the pallets slide out of the plane. To anchor loads and keep them stable, there are various kinds of anchorage points and straps for vehicles, pallets, or bundles. To drop paratroopers from the plane, there are anchoring cables with parachute hooks, signal lights, and other equipment. The lateral doors allow for safe jumping, free from buffeting winds. The effect is achieved through the use of aerodynamic deflectors that are attached to the fuselage when they are not in use. The Cargo Handling System is used to maintain, monitor, and execute precision air drops of cargo, vehicles, and troops through a variety of tactical methods. This includes a station for the loadmaster, a network of lock control units and control panels for detecting, measuring force, activating, and releasing locks. Thus, service members have at their disposal a set of modern engineering tools and the fuselage measurements (length x width x height) to facilitate the shipment of any number of cargo configurations, pallets, containers, vehicles, specialized vehicles, armored vehicles, engineering equipment, and much more. Additionally, and to expand its operational reach, the KC-390 has a probe for in-flight refueling. That way, it can take on fuel from another aircraft with the same capabilities, vastly extending its autonomy and operational radius. New KC-390 tests Soon, the KC-390 must undergo tests transporting Guarani VBTP-MR 6×6 armored vehicles. This is a longstanding requirement put in place by the Paratrooper Infantry Brigade and by the Rapid Response Forces, both professional troops in the Brazilian Army. Armored vehicles in their standard configuration, as well as versions equipped with REMAX, REMAN, and UT-30BR weapons turrets will be used in the testing. The armored version with the TORC30 turret (30 mm cannon) must undergo the same tests as soon as it is integrated with the Guarani armored vehicle and is available. These tests aim to remove any doubts about the plane’s capacity to provide the Paratrooper Infantry Brigade with the immediate transport of combat-ready armored vehicles without the need for any kind of procedure to mount or dismount turrets or weapons stations. In practice, these tests will prove that there are proper communication and information sharing among the managers of the strategic projects vital to the two Brazilian Armed Forces. According to Major General Edson Henrique Ramires, the project manager for the VBTP-MR 6×6, “the Guarani is key to ensuring the mobility and shock power of the Brazilian Expeditionary Forces, and the KC-390 is the ‘silver bullet’ in this strategy, as it delivers armored vehicles, supplies, munitions, troops, and other equipment to the field directly on unfinished runways in just a few hours.” To survive on the front lines in this dangerous environment, the aircraft is equipped with an advanced defensive suite consisting of warning sensors for missile approach, pyrotechnic launchers, and a directional infrared countermeasure system capable of interfering with the guidance head on heat-seeking missiles. This model also employs enhanced vision sensors in bad weather, where the image is projected on large screens installed at eye level in the cockpit. The functionality to land in poor visibility allows the KC-390 to operate safely in adverse weather conditions. A colored camera installed in the cockpit will record the scene of the pilot superimposed over the data generated by the sensor system, in order to analyze the missions. “The KC-390 plane was created to furnish mobility and robustness to the Brazilian Armed Forces, containing the highest level of technology added to the product. This project was guided by high operational flexibility, and by the ease of maintenance throughout the useful life cycle of this model, even in terms of the cost per flight hour. Progress in these tests and the next stages of development will serve to cap off the expectations that have been placed on this product,” said Paulo Gastão, the KC-390 project manager for EDS.last_img read more