571st MSAS launches inaugural WPS seminar in El Salvador

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Amanda Salazar, 571st Mobility Support Advisory Squadron air advisor, facilitates discussion for Women, Peace, and Security seminar Aug. 24, 2021, at Centro de Entrenamiento de Operaciones de Paz (CEOPAZ), El Salvador. Twenty-eight military members of El Salvador’s Air Force, Army and Navy participated in a week-long course covering Women, Peace and Security efforts. 

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE -- The 571st Mobility Support Advisory Squadron and the 818th MSAS hosted the first Women, Peace and Security seminar for 28 Salvadoran military members from Aug. 23-27 at the Centro de Entrenamiento de Operaciones de Paz, El Salvador.

Women, Peace and Security is a United Nations effort to highlight the effect of conflict on women and the importance of including women in security forces and in conflict resolution. This effort aims to promote women leaders within the military and security forces and to develop solutions for a seamless integration.

The seminar, provided by the 571st MSAs, Travis Air Force Base, and augmented by their sister squadron, the 818th MSAS, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, covered a variety of topics to include understanding bias, gender and conflicts, gender roles and duties, developing sustainable practices and more.

“The overall mission objective from this workshop is to introduce concepts of WPS in an operational context to our counterparts in the (Fuerza Armada de El Salvador) with an aim of the workshop participants to be able to apply the concepts to their respective units,” said Maj. Amanda Davis, 571st MSAS foreign area officer. “Women bring essential perspectives and benefits to every organization, to include the military and security forces of a country.

“However, gender integration in this sector is an evolving process that requires continuous effort in order to succeed.”

Salvadoran Navy Lt. Commander Magaly de Vanegas, Navy headquarters communications commander, said this training assures her that progression for women’s equality in her military is paving its way for hers and generations to come.

“Being a woman in the military comes with an instant bias of who I am as a person and my work ethic,” Vanegas said. “With that bias, many women do not want to join the military due to inequality. I say to them, ‘you must join to change this narrative of women not being valued in the military.’”

One WPS initiative is to adapt the cultural perspective of women in leadership roles.

The class included male and female participants of all ranks.

“This needs to be a total force integration,” said Tech. Sgt. Anthony Colón Matos, 571st MSAS team sergeant and lead gender advisor. “We want their military members of all ranks to speak up at a moment’s notice to defend and protect their counterparts against discrimination.”

Davis said this workshop will harness existing efforts in El Salvador and provide tactical tools and best practices to enhance them.

“The resources we are providing are meant to help in real-time,” Colón Matos said.

Salvadoran service members were given the resources to identify gender inclusive policies and promote the means to implement, Colón Matos said.

“By having this knowledge, we can implement WPS rights in my institution,” Vanegas said. “This training will help develop the countries who are most vulnerable.”

The MSAS mission is to implement national strategy by conducting security force assistance activities with partner nations, military forces, or relevant populations to affect partner-nations perceptions, will behavior and capabilities in support of combatant commanders’ requirements and campaign plan objectives.

“We next plan to go to Guatemala,” Davis said. “We will implement the same seminar to cultivate an environment of gender inclusivity amongst military branches.”