Chilean and US forces are conducting the Estrella Austral 2022 joint exercise

The Estrella Austral 2022 exercise provided the Chilean armed forces with a platform to demonstrate their capabilities alongside coalition forces from August 15 to 25. Estrella Austral is a joint special operations exercise designed to develop cooperative skills and build interoperability for counter-terrorism operations.

More than 1,000 international troops gathered to take part in the seventh edition of Exercise Austral Star, which provides many opportunities in all areas, including special forces operations as well as the integration of logistics branches.

Three countries and three observer countries participated in this year’s exercise. Chile hosted the event, while the United States and Spain provided the funds to support it. Brazil, Ecuador and Colombia participated as observers.

Support elements from Special Operations Command South (SOCSOUTH) and the 7th Special Forces Group Military Freefall Team were among the personnel directly involved in the training events. The teams established, organized and managed a joint force headquarters capable of maintaining coordination between multiple exercise locations. Special Forces operators also worked alongside coalition forces while conducting parachute and counter-terrorism missions.

“This is a phenomenal opportunity and challenge for us, allowing us to deploy from multiple surfaces,” said U.S. Army Maj. Dan Sickles, lead planner for SOCSOUTH Southern Star 2022. “We have Marines, Air Force Special Tactics, Air Force Special Forces the OPR army [Destacamentos Operacionales-A]operating in diverse and strict locations, commanded and controlled from a central location in a joint task force for special operations.

International operators perform rapid rope drills during the Estrella Austral 2022 exercise in Quintero, Chile. (Photo: US Army Corporal Anthony Hopper)

Activities included special operations intelligence, personnel recovery, a joint planning process, medical response exercises, and interoperability capabilities. The nations worked together to demonstrate the tactical and professional competence possessed by both the host nation and its participating partner forces.

According to participating Chilean Special Forces team leaders, Estrella Austral provides a lasting enrichment of both operational force capabilities and relationships between friendly forces. Special operations teams focused on foot patrols, direct action technical training, as well as military free fall procedures.

The Chilean military has demonstrated its ability to use its domestic assets along with demonstrations of interoperability between participating nations to be a self-sufficient force and regional leader. Aviation media provided aircraft for skydiving and fast-rope exercises as well as troop mobilization. These aircraft directly supported ground operations in multiple locations while conducting simultaneous exercises.

“Estrella Austral is an integration exercise, not only in terms of special operations, but also the staff element,” said Capt. Karina Kauzlarich, communications officer for the Chilean Army. “Five women, two officers and three non-commissioned officers, managed communications and logistics support alongside our male counterparts. We have fully integrated our fields, which in turn further develops our operational capabilities.”

The integration of women into operational support elements is an adjacent component that Estrella Austral 2022 facilitates. Integration supports a women, peace and security policy that promotes a gender perspective and the fair and meaningful participation of women in peace processes, peace and security consolidation. The Estrella Austral 2022 exercise creates a multidimensional stage to demonstrate and enhance the capabilities of all participating assets, both nations and individuals.

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