VICENZA, Italy — Army Col. Darius Gallegos has been a lot of things throughout his life: a star athlete, a scholar, a police officer, and currently the only American serving at the Center of Excellence for Stability Police Units here.
Gallegos serves as the center’s deputy director and as a liaison for U.S. Army Africa. His mission is assisting in the training of civilian police forces from 96 countries for pre- and post-conflict engagements to better conduct stability and policing operations during United Nations missions.
“Right now, we are focused on the African continent,” he said.
Gallegos said the center parallels and supports the efforts of U.S. Africa Command and U.S. Army Africa. “It’s been my job to synchronize those efforts and to support one another for the final end-state of our missions,” Gallegos said.
Assisting Partner Nations
The civilian aspect of U.N. policing missions helps to stabilize partner nations, Gallegos said. “Without civilian police and law enforcement [and] the rule of law, we would just have chaos,” he explained.
Gallegos said the Center of Excellence supports U.S. Army Africa by training police officers to keep good order and discipline within their countries, cities and regions.
Gallegos’ position at the center is relatively new and is unique in that he is the only American serving at an Italian facility. The center is an international organization, managed by Italian officials and funded by the U.S State Department. He was selected to serve as the center’s deputy director by the Army’s provost marshal general, Maj. Gen. Mark S. Inch, while serving on the Joint Staff at the Pentagon.
“This job allows me to work internationally and strengthen bonds with our partners and allies, as well as the bilateral agreement we have with Italy,” Gallegos said.
Gallegos is no stranger to overseas assignments. More than 15 years of his life have been spent living in European countries.
In high school and throughout college he was a football player, and more notably, a wrestler. Gallegos was a European wrestling champion.
“Winning the European championship was self-gratifying,” Gallegos said. “It is a one-on-one sport, but you wrestle on a team for a school. As I was the team leader, it meant a lot to me to lead by example.”
Gallegos said leadership is what he knows. “It’s in my blood,” he added.
Gallegos hails from a military family with a combined total of nearly a century of Army service. He said his family is what makes him strong, referring to them as his cornerstone or foundation.
Gallegos said he frequently travels in support of the 12 courses the Center of Excellence offers, all taught to U.N. standards.
“A great course, right now, is our Train-the-Trainer course,” he said. The course consists of an initial four weeks of classroom and field training and an additional four weeks of mentorship as attendees return to their home country to share what they learned within their organizations.
“Recent graduates of the course were from Uganda,” the colonel said. “They are back home now, preparing for the final four-week mentorship portion of the course.”
He added that U.N. diplomatic peacekeeping operations would later validate the Ugandans, allowing the Ugandan police forces to conduct U.N. missions. Gallegos said he also intends to travel to each U.S. combatant command and inform leaders about the Center of Excellence and its capabilities.
“People from 96 countries attend training here, a great portion of them from the African continent,” he said.
The civil disturbance training site located in Longare, about 20 minutes from the center, features instructors training attendees in hand-to-hand combat, pat-down-and-search techniques, room clearing and tactical movements, firearm qualifications and riot control, including reacting to crude incendiary devices such as Molotov cocktails.
“And all that training happens here,” he said.