Challenges of the Use of the Armed Forces in Support of the Peruvian National Police for Citizen Security

This article is included in the publication Ambiente Estratégico 2022: Seguridad, Desarrollo y Defensa Nacional.


Citizen security is the responsibility of society as a whole, involving not only state entities, but also private enterprise and even the organized community. This effort should converge in the achievement of living in harmony, enabling the development of daily activities normally. In this context, this article analyzes the response capacity of the Armed Forces (FF. AA.) to support the Peruvian National Police (PNP) in citizen security. The problem encountered is that the FF. AA. have capabilities for war, which must be adequate if effective support is to be provided. If the problem is not mitigated, it is likely that the operations of the Armed Forces produce negative effects on the population in relation to human rights, as well as that planners and participants are subject to judicial problems. In this regard, it is important to create an operational environment with adequate legal standards and a military force with optimal capabilities.

Keywords: State, Crime, Norms, Response Capacity, Citizen Security.


The problems addressed in this article focus on improving the capabilities of the Armed Forces (FF. AA.), which have not yet reached an optimal level that allows them to react efficiently to any crisis that threatens citizen security. To this end, the available regulations, the type of equipment and the level of training, instruction and training of military personnel for the planning and conduct of military actions in support of the control of citizen security will be analyzed. In this regard, although the legal framework exists for the use of force by the armed institutions, it presents gaps that must be resolved in order for the Armed Forces carry out effective operations in support of the Peruvian National Police (PNP) in the field of citizen security.

Additionally, the FF. AA. are organized and equipped to respond to a crisis or emergency situation affecting the Peruvian State. However, due to the complex situations of recent years, these skills must be modified, and their lethality decreased if the FF. AA. get involved in citizen security. Although certain elements of the armed institutions have experience in the use of force to maintain public order, it is necessary that military personnel be properly trained in intervention and treatment actions with the population. They should also receive practical training on crowd control techniques in violent actions. Therefore, it is necessary to standardize intervention procedures in coordination with the PNP and, additionally, the Armed Forces and the PNP carry out joint planning that allows them to strengthen and integrate their capacities and, therefore, reduce their weaknesses.

National Security and Defense in the Region

The definition of the international order, globalization and the various processes of transnational integration have changed the concepts of security and defence at the international, regional and national levels. Security and defence have different definitions.

Defense is the action or set of actions capable of providing and maintaining the feeling of security in society; on the other hand, security is a Constitutional Right of the human being and the State, valid in all countries and constitutes, together with justice and the common welfare, one of the three purposes of the State.[1]

Living in security is a right and a basic need of citizens that the State must guarantee permanently, as threats and conflicts are increasingly complex. Likewise, new forms of transnational conflicts and threats are emerging, which violate and affect the normal development of the population’s activities.[2]

The security of citizens has overflowed into society. Common and organized crime are systematically gaining ground. In many Latin American countries, the capacity of police or similar agencies has reached the limit of crime control. In this context, the Armed Forces are also participating in the control of citizen security.[3] While there are different opinions about the roles played by the FF. AA., its use in the fight against organized crime gives rise to debates and controversies. The participation of the Armed Forces on issues of citizen security has had an acceptable impact on the population, managing to reduce crime rates in some Latin American countries.

In other countries of Latin America or Europe, the FF. AA. have expanded their radius of action in matters of public security. Globalization has accentuated the problem of transnational criminal actors operating within national borders and, in this sense, it has been necessary to use military force by adapting the regulations on the use of force.[4]

Police forces have proven insufficient in different parts of the country. Therefore, their response capacity has been diminished, which would be aggravated by the other emerging challenges and threats that may arise. In Latin America, the Armed Forces are filling this gap, as is the case in El Salvador. In that country, the Armed Forces have been designed with regulated capacities to confront organized crime; Consequently, they have had to reduce their lethal effect for greater control purposes and have only been used for emergency cases.

When using the FF. AA. face to face with the population, this entails negative consequences for democratic regimes at the local and national levels; likewise, it could affect civil liberties, since in many cases the actions of the Armed Forces has a considerable degree of rudeness and its weapons are to annihilate and not to control, a fact that would seriously affect the citizenry.[5]

In this regard, governments are required to train military personnel in order to minimize potential risks. This training should include, at a minimum, the following aspects: crowd control, persuasion tactics, police intelligence, legal norms, human rights, crisis analysis in public order, military-police planning, detention procedures, security of the force and analysis of legal regulations during operations. Therefore, to effectively implement the new security methods, it is essential to formulate public policies based on facts and scientific rigor.

Three conditions must be met for this approach to be effective: Access to modern communication tools, availability and management of truthful and timely information, as well as human resources with technical capacities to manage policies associated with the new security paradigm, both in formal and informal environments.[6]

For military planning in support of citizen security, the decision-making process depends, to a large extent, on the accuracy and accessibility of military-police information and intelligence, since it allows a more accurate assessment of the problem, reducing the weight of subjective variables such as the feeling of insecurity, public opinion, and the influence of social media. Additionally, there are still technology issues in cyberspace that prevent crime and violence data from being collected and transmitted in a timely manner. Consequently, it is necessary for the PNP to improve the capabilities of its police control platforms for conflict and law enforcement situations. This information should be shared with the Armed Forces in cases of emergency and also during joint training.[7]

The systemic approach to citizen security requires personnel with technical and professional skills specialized in transversal skills, such as teamwork, a proactive and decisive attitude, and horizontal and vertical communication skills. However, there is a need to improve systems for accessing data on organised crime activities. For this, it is necessary to have platforms and control systems integrated into cyberspace, which allow the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) to fight against criminal organizations. These means must be shared with the Armed Forces in your existing command and control systems.

National Security and Defense in Peru

The White Paper on National Defense points out that “the traditional dangers come from territorial disputes, to which are added the radical organizations that foment social violence and popular outbursts, which are contributing to the growth of social conflicts in Peru.”[8] This means that the perception of citizen insecurity has been significantly affected by globalization. Citizen security is the action of the State to protect the population in all fields of human activity through strategies that allow peaceful, egalitarian coexistence free of all forms of violence, based on the protection of life and human rights. In this sense, the Peruvian State must improve public policies, as well as legal and budgetary regulations so that both the Armed Forces and PNP can work effectively.

The feeling of citizen insecurity has increased significantly in the last ten years; the geographical delimitation of Lima and Callao, attributable mainly to factors such as increased unemployment and poverty, become a level of violence and social problems that endanger personal security, private property and the freedom of people.[9]

In Peru, traditional threats that came from territorial disputes have been replaced by radical groups that foment social violence and public outbursts. Civil unrest is usually generated for political, social and economic reasons. However, the capacities of the Armed Forces have not yet been adapted, lacking units specially created to support internal order and citizen security. Furthermore, the interoperability aspect is not adequately defined for this purpose. Crowd control equipment is only available in certain military units in the capital, such as the First Special Forces Brigade and some other units of the Second Army Division stationed in the capital.

The PNP, as a tutelary institution, has the mission of guaranteeing, maintaining and restoring internal order and, consequently, citizen security. Their efforts can be seen daily; However, the problem is broader and requires a real commitment from the authorities and complementing with military capabilities.[10]

The PNP has been designed for actions of control of internal order and maintenance of public order, while the FF. AA. are trained to use lethal force against the enemy until they achieve their destruction. This dilemma forces us to regulate the type of military means and capabilities for citizen security. Otherwise, destructive power would generate social conflicts and -mainly- problems for military personnel who plan and participate in operations. For this reason, it is essential to standardize the procedures of both forces to be used in citizen security.[11]

Finally, a military unit designed to support the control of citizen security must employ crowd control equipment, non-lethal weapons, lethal weapons in minimal quantities (only for emergencies), and communications systems interoperable with the command post (either military or police). Likewise, military patrols must have radio communication for each of their members, while the command-and-control system requires drones and drones to monitor operations.


Military capability is the set of resources and skills that enable military operations and actions to counter threats, issues, and concerns at the strategic, operational, and tactical levels. However, these capabilities are not adequate to the operational requirements required to support the PNP in citizen security, because the use of weapons has a destructive effect. The FF. AA. have certain capacities to participate in the control of citizen security. However, due to the wide variety of scenarios affecting human rights, their means and weapons systems must reduce the level of lethality. For that reason, these institutions must acquire non-lethal weapons aimed at crowd control. At the same time, the Peruvian State must promulgate the legal norms that allow the Armed Forces participate appropriately.

The optimal use of the FF. AA. for citizen security has as its center of gravity the training of military personnel in the activities of dealing with the population and in the use of force. In this regard, it is necessary to standardize procedures in coordination with the PNP, taking advantage of police experience and doctrine. The theory of the systemic approach in joint actions of citizen security requires having personnel with technical and professional skills specialized in information technology skills. Therefore, it is necessary to have platforms and control systems integrated into cyberspace, which allow the use of ICTs to fight criminal organizations. These means must be shared with the Armed Forces and be integrated into existing command and control systems.

Additionally, it is necessary that there is a coordinated planning between both forces in order to synchronize the actions and integrate their capabilities. In the stage of conducting combined operations, it is necessary to detail and adapt the command-and-control capacity. Its decentralized execution would violate the unity of command, causing theloss of maneuverability in a scenario where only the PNP has experience. Consequently, the protocols for the intervention of the Armed Forces must be established in order not to cause harm to the population and not to violate human rights. Therefore, it is necessary to verify both doctrines and establish standardized criteria or protocols.


  1. César Astudillo. “Un ensayo sobre la Seguridad y la Defensa en el Perú – Nuevas Amenazas, Nuevos Roles”, Joint School of the Armed Forces of Peru (December 2017),
  2. Ibid.
  3. Jhon Baylis, International and global security in the post-Cold War era. The Globalization of World Politics: An Introduction to International Relations (Oxford University Press, 2001).
  4. Marcio Da Silva, Use of the Brazilian Armed Forces against cross-border crimes, (Argentina: Universidad de la Defensa Nacional del Plata, 2017).
  5. Ibid.
  6. Eduardo Castro, “La noción de policía en los trabajos de Michel Foucault: objeto, límites, antinomias”, in Colombian Yearbook of Social and Cultural History, National University of Colombia (July 1, 2019),
  7. Matt Mc Donald, “Securitization and the Construction of Security”, European Journal of International Relations (2008), 563-587,
  8. Juan Carlos Huamaní, Optimization of the operational capacity of the Army in support of the National Police of Peru in the face of disruption of public order due to social conflicts in mining, (Peru: Army War College Graduate School, 2021).
  9. Ibid., 1.
  10. Roger Aguilar, Reyner Arévalo and Javier Ccapa. “Capacidad de respuesta del Ejército del Perú en apoyo a la Policía Nacional en el control del orden interno”, Army War College Graduate School (2019),ÉRCITO%20DEL%20PERÚ%20EN%20APOYO%20A%20LA%20POLICIA.pdf?sequence=3&isAllowed=y
  11. Alberto Cahua, Elvis Cabrera and Leoncio Bernal, “Organización y empleo de una fuerza militar especializada para desastres naturales en el Perú”, Army War College Graduate School (2018),ÓN%20Y%20EMPLEO%20DE%20UNA%20FUERZA%20MILITAR%20ESPECIALIZADA%20PARA%20DESASTRES.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The ideas contained in this analysis are the sole responsibility of the author, without necessarily reflecting the thoughts of the CEEEP or the Peruvian Army.

Image: CEEEP