Juan Manuel Perez has served in the Guatemalan Army. He presently is retired. Throughout his military career, he took various military training courses as part of his professionalization including Strategic High Studies, War College, Command and Staff College, Human Rights, and Peacekeeping Operations. He can be found on Twitter @r_juanmanuel.
Title: Assessing Guatemalan Military Relationships
Date Originally Written: April 10, 2023.
Date Originally Published: April 24, 2023.
Author and / or Article Point of View: The author is a retired military member who believes trust builds strong international military relationships. This article includes the author’s great experiences working together with U.S. Southern Command leaders between 2016-2017.
Summary: The Guatemalan Military is able to meet the challenges it faces through its various partnerships. Its partnership with the U.S. Southern Command builds capacity and capabilities to counter threat networks and prepare for and respond to disasters and humanitarian crises. Its partnerships with border sharing nations such as Salvador, Honduras, Mexico, and an adjacency zone with Belize enable all involved to address common threats.
Text: The diplomatic relation between the U.S. Government and Guatemala has existed since 1849. This partnership between the U.S. Government and Guatemala has improved Guatemalan Military capabilities and competencies to address trans-regional challenges.
Guatemala is part of 31 countries that encompass the U.S. Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM) Area of Responsibility (AOR). In this AOR, trans-regional and transnational threats affect security and governance. Drug trafficking is also a significant security challenge. However, due to the close proximity of the U.S. and the USSOUTHCOM AOR, U.S. support can be provided and strong relationships built.
USSOUTHCOM provides different levels of support to countries in its AOR: strategic, operational, and tactical. This support assists host nation militaries and security forces with training, equipment, and planning as part of the U.S. Department of Defense contribution to regional strategy.
USSOUTHCOM support to the Guatemalan Military has been critical to building capacity to counter regional threat networks and preparing for and responding to disasters and crises. Organizations supporting the Guatemalan Military also include the greater U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Army South, the Arkansas National Guard, and the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs.
Through the Interagency Task Force (IATF) in combating drug trafficking, USSOUTHCOM strengthened the Guatemalan Military and National Police through counter narcotics aid and technical assistance. The IATF consisted in three task forces which operate close to the Guatemala’s main porous borders.
The first Task Force was called “Tecun Uman” which operated in western border with Mexico. The second Task Force was called “Chorti” which operated in the eastern region of the Guatemala adjacent to the border region with Honduras. The third Task Force was called “Xinca”, which operated adjacent to the border region with El Salvador. In 2016-2017 the project of a fourth Task Force “Jaguar” was planned, which was going to be focused to work in the northern region of Guatemala bordering Mexico.
The Guatemalan Military must also be prepared to handle natural disasters during the rainy season, the possibility of eruption of one of the chain of volcanos, and the latent hazard of earthquakes. USSOUTHCOM has worked with the Guatemalan Military to enhance Humanitarian and Disaster Relief capabilities. The U.S. has share advanced technology which have help to predict, avert, or mitigate before natural threats happens. The exchange of experiences and lesson learned have created trust between partners nations, in real crisis responses. The U.S. capabilities also have aided to delivery quick humanitarian supplies for people in need, especially in time of hurricanes or tropical floods. These efforts have helped improved interoperability and institutionalize preparedness and responses measures.
Guatemala has developed a security strategy based on the competencies and capabilities that each government institution possesses. These competencies and capabilities generate synergy through partnerships with friendly countries which share a common border with Guatemala such as Salvador, Honduras, Mexico and an adjacency zone with Belize.
Another source of assistance to the Guatemalan Military is both Surveillance and intelligence technology through the Cooperative Situational Information Integration (CSII) system collecting threat data to counter illicit organizations. Guatemala’s strategic relationship with Mexico enables the high-level group for security (GANSEG) to hold meetings on Intelligence, International Security and Terrorism, Organized Crime and Legal cooperation, and Public and Border Security.
Guatemala coordinates with the Belize Defense Forces to conduct patrols with the scope of the Confidence Building Measures along the adjacency zone, with the purpose of fighting the threats towards both countries.
Guatemala also enhanced border security efforts with Honduras through the high-level group for security and justice (GANSEJ). Other Central America countries have developed protocols on different topics, including natural disasters and peace operations within dynamics of the Central America Armed Forces Conference (CFAC).
Efforts by USSOUTHCOM through its entire AOR, and the Guatemalan Military with both USSOUTHCOM and its partners and neighbors, have enhanced security throughout the region, both from trans-regional threats and natural disasters. These efforts have built long-lasting relationships and interoperability that will enable Guatemala, and other countries in the USSOUTHCOM AOR to work together in the future to address any challenge that comes along.
 U.S. Department of State. (2021, November 9). U.S. relations with Guatemala – United States Department of State. U.S. Department of State. Retrieved April 23, 2023, from https://www.state.gov/u-s-relations-with-guatemala/
 Oak, G. S. (2015, February 9). Building the guatemalan interagency task force Tecún Umán. RAND Corporation. Retrieved April 23, 2023, from https://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR885.html
 US, Latin American countries demonstrate, assess new information-sharing technology. DVIDS. (n.d.). Retrieved April 23, 2023, from https://www.dvidshub.net/news/122355/us-latin-american-countries-demonstrate-assess-new-information-sharing-technology
 OAS: Belize and Guatemala Sign Agreement on Negotiation Framework and Confidence Building Measures. (n.d.). Retrieved April 23, 2023, from https://www.oas.org/en/media_center/press_release.asp?sCodigo=E-188/05
 Valle/Diálogo, K. (2022, August 2). CFAC strengthens alliances in Central America. Diálogo Américas. Retrieved April 23, 2023, from https://dialogo-americas.com/articles/cfac-strengthens-alliances-in-central-america/#.ZEUX8S_MIzw