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    Leaders from 18 nations, SOUTHCOM meet in Jamaica to discuss Caribbean security

    Leaders from 18 nations, SOUTHCOM meet in Jamaica to discuss Caribbean security

    Photo By Jose Ruiz | U.S. Navy Adm. Kurt Tidd, commander of U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), center, and...... read more read more



    Story by Michael Wimbish  

    U.S. Southern Command

    KINGSTON, Jamaica - Drawn by an interest in addressing regional threats of mutual concern, delegations from 18 nations met in Kingston, Jamaica, Jan. 26-29, 2016, for talks on security cooperation capacity building in the Caribbean.

    More than 100 leaders and experts in defense, government, law enforcement, and emergency management took part in the 14th Caribbean Nations Security Conference (CANSEC XIV), where they examined known challenges to regional stability and discussed the policies, strategies, initiatives, mechanisms and capabilities that support regional collaboration and shared security goals.

    The annual conference was co-hosted by Maj. Gen. Antony Bertram Anderson, Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) Chief of Defence Staff, and U.S. Navy Adm. Kurt Tidd, commander of U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), who briefly addressed attendees during a short opening ceremony.

    “Much of the work we do nowadays is within a multiagency, multinational context, rather than the traditional military operation, even though those traditional partnerships remain essential. This current paradigm allows us to approach the business of securing our countries in innovative ways. When we get these partnerships right, we will achieve a synergy in security that will allow collective efforts to be far more effective than if we attempted to go it alone,” Anderson said.

    Tidd told attendees he was eager to hear their perspectives and ideas on ways to improve collaboration.

    “From what I know and from what I have learned over these past few weeks, I see tremendous opportunities for improving information sharing between our countries and leveraging already established mechanisms. Let me know what obstacles remain, what still needs to be done, and what SOUTHCOM can do to help,” he said.

    JDF Lt. Col. Jaime Ogilvie, acting Colonel General Staff, delivered the conference’s first presentation, focusing the forum’s opening topic on regional security.

    U.S. and Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders provided updates on the CARICOM Crime and Security Strategy (CCSS) and the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI).

    “Between 2010 and 2015, we provided over $387 million under CBSI (for) law enforcement programs to address the threats, complemented by longer-term, rule-of-law programs, economic development activities, and military capability programs,” said Matthew Mullins-Hall, a foreign affairs officer with the U.S. State Department.

    Mullins-Hall called the State Department-funded Technical Assistance Field Team (TAFT), “one of the most successful” programs that assist the region under CBSI. Based at SOUTHCOM, the 15-member team is comprised of U.S. Coast Guard and Army engineers, electricians, technicians, communications specialists, and logisticians. The team assists the region’s naval and maritime security forces with improving maintenance, supply and logistics capabilities critical to ensuring the sustainment and availability of maritime patrol fleets for counter illicit trafficking operations.

    “They’re actually here in Jamaica this week helping the Jamaica Defence Force launch their SAFE (patrol) boats,” he added, referring to boats recently donated to the JDF by the State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement.

    The first day’s agenda also included two sessions led by Caribbean and U.S. panelists, who moderated discussions on “regional strategy synchronization” and “emerging regional threats.”

    Day two of CANSEC XIV began with discussions on cooperative efforts to counter transnational organized crime in the Caribbean and improve information sharing.

    While briefing the latter, Robert Post, a SOUTHCOM analyst, underscored the immediacy of understanding how best to leverage information-sharing mechanisms to counter threats, such as transnational criminal organizations who traffic drugs, arms, money and people through the region.

    “A common understanding of data and the practical aspects of how it must be shared needs to be worked out now. It cannot wait until the next piece of critical information is received. It cannot wait until the problem becomes more complex or dynamic … We must understand the connecting points before we can begin to use them,” he advised.

    Ronald Jackson, executive director of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) briefed attendees on the region’s ongoing collaboration to strengthen emergency-response capabilities. The agency helped aid communities in Dominica after Tropical Storm Erika passed near the island Aug. 27, killing 20 people and damaging or destroying 270 homes, leaving more than 500 homeless.

    During the event’s final panel, the guests discussed ways to build and strengthen regional capacities.

    After the panel, the delegations visited the Caribbean Military Maritime Training Center, and Caribbean Military Aviation School, where faculty members acquainted the guests with how their institutions support training and operations for Jamaica and other Caribbean nations.

    “We’ve been working for a while, specifically with Canada, in developing this capability,” Anderson said, before escorting them to what he called “Centers of Excellence.”

    “Because of our relatively small size it may be useful for some of the partner nations from the Caribbean to look at what we’re doing,” he explained.

    The final day of CANSEC XIV began with a hemispheric focus, as guests were briefed by the Inter-American Defense Board and updated on the 12th Conference of Defense Ministers of the Americas, a meeting of Western Hemisphere ministers of defense Trinidad and Tobago will host in October.

    The conference also facilitated bilateral meetings between the participating delegations and closed with an executive discussion, during which senior leaders reviewed the information, ideas and proposals discussed, as well as shared goals resulting from the conference and steps needed to achieve them.



    Date Taken: 01.29.2016
    Date Posted: 01.29.2016 10:56
    Story ID: 187375
    Location: JM

    Web Views: 318
    Downloads: 1