Service members representing 18 countries of the Americas exchanged ideas and suggestions to combat transregional and transnational threat networks.
The Conference of American Armies (CAA) is a military organization created in 1960, connecting 26 countries from North to South America. Military leaders from 18 CAA member countries gathered in San Antonio, Texas, February 4-8, 2019, to take part in a specialized conference to discuss Leadership and Military Support to Civil Authorities in Joint and Interagency Environments in Response to Emerging Threats in the Americas.
“In this increasingly globalized and connected world, discussing the effects of threat networks and how to mitigate their results is absolutely fundamental,” said Brazilian Army (EB, in Portuguese) Lieutenant Colonel Ramos Marques, a Brazilian officer who participated in the conference. The officer, who belongs to the 5th Subdivision of the Brazilian Army’s General Staff, addressed current communications tools. The technology brings many benefits to society, yet criminal networks also use it, multiplying problems such as drug and arms trafficking, including terrorism.
Unity is essential to fight such threats. “Exchanging experiences, developing new capabilities, and fostering interoperability among armies in support of civil authorities is key to combat networks that transcend physical borders among countries,” Lt. Col. Marques said.
Day to day
Specialists kicked off the CAA event with lectures on the conference’s theme. Participants learned from leaders such as General Carlos Alberto Ospina, former commander of the Colombian Army; Dr. Craig A. Deare, professor at the U.S. National Defense University; and Nathan Menkevich, from U.S. Southern Command’s Joint Cyber Center.
Service members attending the conference formed three working groups. Each group discussed topics from a certain perspective. The first group evaluated threats, the second discussed interoperability, and the third focused on the interagency approach, including coordination among various agencies.
On the last day of the conference, participants shared discussion results with members of CAA in a document that will serve as a draft for the Guide to Countering Threat Networks. “There will still be meetings via video conference with member countries, at dates CAA administration will determine, to improve the content updated at the conference,” said EB Colonel Fábio Serpa de Carvalho Lima, of the 3rd Subdivision of the Brazilian Army’s General Staff, who also attended the meeting in San Antonio.
The objective is to complete the version of the guide that will be presented at the Commanders’ Conference of American Armies (CCAA), scheduled for November 2019, in the Dominican Republic. The Dominican Army runs activities for CAA’s 2018-2019 biennium.
Once the document is approved, CAA member countries will be able to use it in different ways, as reference material. “The guide is not binding. Its relevance has to do with concept standardization that, once deemed viable, may be leveraged, entirely or partially, for manuals and regulations of those countries who see value in it,” said Lt. Col. Marques.
For EB officers, the importance of the conference goes beyond reaching the meeting’s objectives. The creation of a professional environment that promotes debate and idea exchanges brings even more value to this kind of event. “The spirit of cooperation and sharing valuable experiences serve as a powerful tool to strengthen ties of mutual friendship and trust among participating nations,” Lt. Col. Marques said.
CAA plans three presidential meetings in 2019 before CCAA. In April, Chile will host another specialized conference about Military Leadership of the American Armies in the 21st Century: Challenges and Proposals. The exercise on Interagency Operations on Protection of the Environment and Natural Resources, in Argentina, will happen in June. CCAA’s preparatory conference will be in August, in the Dominican Republic.