By Julieta Pelcastre/Diálogo September 26, 2017 Guatemalan Army engineers and members of Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force-Southern Command (SPMAGTF-SC) are building training areas for urban operations within the 3rd Infantry Brigade “General Manuel Maximiliano Aguilar Santamaría,” in Jutiapa, Guatemala. The goal is to step up the fight against transnational criminal groups that operate in border areas. The construction project is part of the cooperation agreements between the Guatemalan government and U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), within the framework of the Plan of the Alliance for Prosperity in the Northern Triangle, designed to reduce crime rates in the border areas of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. “Due to the threats we have on our southern border, SOUTHCOM’s Office of Security and Cooperation [OSC] and the Guatemalan Ministry of Defense [MINDEF] have agreed to build a MOUT [Military Operations in Urban Terrain] training site,” Marine Corps Colonel Ariel Salvador De León, the director of Logistics for MINDEF General Staff, told Diálogo. “[This] is to reinforce our units’ training and improve the cooperative efforts that the nations of the Northern Triangle are currently making.” In this context, 60 SPMAGTF-SC Marines are in Guatemala to exchange knowledge and experience with the Guatemalan Army Corps of Engineers. As a result, the service members are building a 1,000-square meter MOUT training site in the department of Jutiapa, 118 kilometers from the Guatemalan capital. The construction, valued at approximately $85,000, will have a practice area and four buildings with steps, hallways, and multiple rooms for military operations, two of which will be two stories. Military officials estimate that the work will be completed by December 2017 or January 2018. “The urban operations site will allow our personnel to train on complex military situations and tactics in urban terrain and on restricted movement and fast maneuvers above, below, and over the terrain,” said Guatemalan Army Corps of Engineers Second Lieutenant Sindy Cuculista, who is in charge of coordinating the work with Marines from SPMAGTF-SC. “They’ll also be able to practice the taking of buildings to clear or infiltrate them and hostage prevention and rescue.” Each building will have a raised area that will allow the instructors to observe and examine the actions of Guatemalan service members during training. “Applying these techniques and tactics will enable our combatants to carry out successful operations against criminal groups,” 2nd Lt. Cuculista added. In accordance with the MOUT site development plan, the group of marines decided to use special building materials, such as cinder blocks and stonework, to give the training a greater sense of realism. “This important, large-scale military initiative will boost our response strategy in the event of natural disasters and humanitarian aid in border areas,” Col. De León noted. Recovering capacities “Within our Integrated Defense Planning and Management System [SIPLAGDE, per its Spanish acronym], our cooperation with SOUTHCOM signifies the recovery of capacities to be more effective at the border,” Col. De León stated. SIPLAGDE is part of the transformation of Guatemalan Defense over the next 20 years. It was developed with support from the U.S. Department of Defense’s Defense Institutional Reform Initiative, which promotes results-based planning according to capacities, programming, performance, and budgets. “The cooperation between Guatemala and SOUTHCOM is of high strategic value, given how these emerging threats have the capacity to move quickly because they manage quite important resources,” Col. De León underscored. “Limitations of personnel, equipment, and training would not allow us to carry out security operations in certain border spaces.” Guatemala shares more than 458 kilometers of border with El Salvador and Honduras. It has seven ports of entry at the border and 59 illegal vehicle crossings. These three countries, which comprise Central America’s Northern Triangle, are developing the Tri-National Task Force and Plan Fortaleza (Strength) to shield their shared borders and fight latent threats such as drug trafficking, human trafficking, arms trafficking, contraband, kidnapping, and gangs. With support from the United States, Plan Fortaleza is being implemented for the purpose of countering drug trafficking organizations that use the Transversal del Norte and El Naranjo routes to smuggle drugs and money. “SOUTHCOM is of enormous help to us in this process of defense transformation,” Col. De León said. “Thanks to their help, we can adjust our needs for developing the capacities that we require, in order to focus on the mission of border security.” Strong and solid institutions In addition to reinforcing training, equipping, and doctrine, Guatemalan Army personnel, and SPMAGTF-SC marines are giving their full dedication and professionalism to faithfully and efficiently completing their assigned mission. “The MOUT site initiative is a great opportunity to keep making our maximum effort to maintain strong and solid institutions,” 2nd Lt. Cuculista stated. “The knowledge learned and shared with the marines helps us in our professional achievement. We’re seeing ourselves involved in more and more projects.” Second Lieutenant Cuculista emphasized the teamwork and responsibility of participating in the development of the urban combat training site. “We get along quite well with the U.S. marines. The MOUT site is being built professionally and tailored to our actual needs. This is a job with quite a lot of responsibilities that strengthens our capacities, our bonds of friendship, and our reciprocity with Southern Command,” she concluded.
This waterfront mansion at 18-20 The Sovereign Mile, Sovereign Islands, has changed hands after almost four years on the market.AFTER sitting on the market for almost four years, a Sovereign Islands mansion has sold. The six-bedroom house, which has a basement garage that can park up to 20 cars, is well-known on the Glitter Strip thanks to two lion statues that guard the gates. The waterfront property at 18-20 The Sovereign Mile sold earlier this week for $3.5 million, according to CoreLogic. A local family secured the keys.The property sold for $4.45 million less than the vendor’s initial price hopes from 2015. Property records show it last changed hands in 2014 for $3.9 million and has most recently been rented out for $3000 a week. The luxury, three-level mansion features a media room, home office, gymnasium, games room, resort-style pool and a sunken waterside lounge with a wet bar and fridge.It sits on a 1501sq m block with 27m of water frontage. Video Player is loading.Play VideoPlayNext playlist itemMuteCurrent Time 0:00/Duration 0:51Loaded: 0%Stream Type LIVESeek to live, currently playing liveLIVERemaining Time -0:51 Playback Rate1xChaptersChaptersDescriptionsdescriptions off, selectedCaptionscaptions settings, opens captions settings dialogcaptions off, selectedQuality Levels720p720pHD576p576p432p432p270p270pAutoA, selectedAudio Tracken (Main), selectedFullscreenThis is a modal window.Beginning of dialog window. Escape will cancel and close the window.TextColorWhiteBlackRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyOpaqueSemi-TransparentBackgroundColorBlackWhiteRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyOpaqueSemi-TransparentTransparentWindowColorBlackWhiteRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyTransparentSemi-TransparentOpaqueFont Size50%75%100%125%150%175%200%300%400%Text Edge StyleNoneRaisedDepressedUniformDropshadowFont FamilyProportional Sans-SerifMonospace Sans-SerifProportional SerifMonospace SerifCasualScriptSmall CapsReset restore all settings to the default valuesDoneClose Modal DialogEnd of dialog window.This is a modal window. This modal can be closed by pressing the Escape key or activating the close button.Close Modal DialogThis is a modal window. This modal can be closed by pressing the Escape key or activating the close button.PlayMuteCurrent Time 0:00/Duration 0:00Loaded: 0%Stream Type LIVESeek to live, currently playing liveLIVERemaining Time -0:00 Playback Rate1xFullscreenStarting your hunt for a dream home00:51 The property sold for $3.5 million.It first hit the market in November 2015 with a whopping $7.95 million price tag which was slashed over time. It was most recently listed at $4.29 million. At least five different agencies tried their hand at selling the house.Professionals Vertullo agent Chris Moyer managed to ink the deal. MORE NEWS: Parents hope $5 lottery gets kids into property market MORE NEWS: This apartment probably earns more than you “It was on the market for about four years with other agents in my area before I picked it up and sold it within 60 days,” he said. More from news02:37International architect Desmond Brooks selling luxury beach villa10 hours ago02:37Gold Coast property: Sovereign Islands mega mansion hits market with $16m price tag1 day ago“It’s an iconic property, known as the house with the lions out the front of it. “The buyer was a local family, my understanding is they are going to renovate and possibly live in it.” Mr Moyer said the market in the area had felt the winter chill but was expected to heat up again soon. “It’s steady but a little bit quieter in winter,” he said. “ It always starts to take off again in August.” It initially hit the market in 2015 with a $7.95 million price tag.