Officers train ‘north of bridge’
EDUCATION OFFICER MAJOR John Mowers talks with cadets in the college library. The USA Western Territory provided funding for the library.
If you want to find the Latin America North College for Officer Training, this is the address: “From the stone bridge 1 km north.” Located just outside San José proper, the training college is nestled in the hills in a residential neighborhood; the road leading up to it was originally built so that ox carts could haul coffee beans out from the hills above.
The college consists of nine residential and academic buildings, with the chapel as the campus’ focal point. Captain Javier Obando is training principal, and Captain María Eugenia Obando is director of special services.
While its setting is rural, the training college’s mission is thoroughly 21st century. Dedicated in February 2000, it was built at a cost of $1.8 million dollars. The U.S.A. Southern Territory gave $1 million towards its construction, and the USA Western Territory gave $30,000 for the library and administration buildings.
There are currently 20 cadets in training who represent six countries: Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Panama. Eleven are first-year, and nine are second-year. Between them, there are 20 children. The school has a capacity for 36 cadets. Previously, cadets were trained in Mexico City.
Earning a bachelor’s degree is now a possibility, thanks to the training college’s affiliation with UNELA (Evangelical University of the Americas). Since UNELA is also affiliated with the national council of higher education (CONASUP), it is able to accredit the Army’s programs.
After completing the training college program, officers still need a number of classes to earn their B.A. degree. During the next five years, they are able to complete degree requirements by taking continuing education classes; they finish with a degree in missiology or theology from UNELA.