CANSEC 2015: A Joint Effort to Combat a Common Threat

CANSEC 2015: A Joint Effort to Combat a Common Threat

By Dialogo
January 21, 2015






Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) claimed responsibility on 15 January 2015 for the rampage that killed 12 people at France's Charlie Hebdo
satirical magazine a week earlier. The attack was years in the making, an AQAP leader said in a video, claiming that U.S.-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki was the mastermind behind it.

This horrific act in France was also a reminder to us all that our shared democratic values—the principles that unite the Western Hemisphere with our European partners—are also vulnerable to attack, said U.S. Marine Corps General John F. Kelly, commander of the United States Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) during his opening remarks at the XIII Caribbean Nations Security Conference (CANSEC). “And we must always be ready to defend our nations from terrorists seeking to harm our citizens or criminals seeking to undermine our institutions. Now, more than ever, we must be vigilant. We must stand together. And we must work together to confront whatever challenge we face,” he added.

Gen. Kelly was preceded by the Royal Bahamas Defence Force Commander, Commodore Roderick Bowe, who briefly stated that, “it was important to rekindle friendships and form new ones,” referring to all countries present at the Conference. Cdre. Bowe then introduced the Bahamian Minister of National Security, Dr. Bernard J. Nottage, who said that one of the major threats in the maritime domain of The Bahamas is human smuggling and illegal immigration, “where thousands seek to leave their homeland in search for a better life.” And he is right. According to the Royal Bahamas Defence Force statistics for the period of 2000 to 2015, over 26,000 illegal immigrants have been apprehended at sea.

Dr. Nottage noted that, like other countries in the area, Bahamians are facing the challenge of dealing with drugs passing through the island—in most cases en route to the United States—but weapons are being left behind and gangs are being established.

And that’s why the main topic of this year’s CANSEC was “Countering Transnational Organized Crime and Threats to Caribbean Territorial Sovereignty.” The conference, co-sponsored by the SOUTHCOM and the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, serves as an executive-level forum for SOUTHCOM and defense and security chiefs from the Caribbean, as well as partners from regional organizations, the U.S. government, Canada, and Europe, to discuss the way ahead for a regional effort and strategy to counter transnational organized crime and build a united front against this shared problem.

“Your participation in CANSEC demonstrates your country’s commitment to Caribbean security—a commitment shared by each and every one of us in this room,” said Gen. Kelly. “To our Canadian, French, British, and Dutch partners: your participation is a testament to the nature of the threat posed by transnational organized crime.”

As with other Caribbean islands, Nassau’s warm waters and stunning vistas create a tropical paradise that nonetheless is not immune to the dangers of transnational organized crime. “When it comes to the security of the Western Hemisphere, it doesn’t matter where you’re located on the map—if it’s a challenge faced by one of us, it’s a challenge faced by all of us,” stated Gen. Kelly.

Representatives included military personnel and civilians from Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos, the United States, regional organizations such as CARICOM, as well as observers from the Inter-American Defense Board, the Netherlands, France, Canada, and the United Kingdom. They gathered in Nassau, Bahamas, from 20-23 January, seeking to work together to address challenges to Caribbean security and sovereignty.

At last year’s CANSEC, participants identified ways to support the new regional illicit-trafficking response strategy of the Caribbean Community Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (CARICOM IMPACS). According to Gen. Kelly, “We’ve done a lot in the past year, and I think we can build on that momentum. This doesn’t just apply to counterdrug operations; I see opportunities for partnering in many different areas, especially when it comes to humanitarian relief, responding to pandemic diseases like Ebola, and energy security.”

During their opening remarks, both Dr. Nottage and Gen. Kelly mentioned that while great progress has been made, the countries in the region still face challenges, such as doing a better job of gathering and sharing information. Their maritime and air-domain capabilities, for example, could be enhanced by better utilizing information-sharing technologies, said Dr. Nottage. “Improved communication among our nations would also help combat the threat of criminal networks and trafficking in illegal firearms and drugs—something that impacts every nation in this room,” added Gen. Kelly.

The SOUTHCOM commander also leveraged his opening remarks to ask the participating nations’ representatives in the room to sign onto the Cooperative Situational Sensor Integration (CSSI) Memorandum of Understanding, the Aerial Intercept Assistance Agreement (AIAA), and the Technical Assistance Field Team (TAFT) agreement. “Your signatories’ commitment will go a long way toward achieving the goals of the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI): to build a more peaceful and prosperous region in a safer and more secure Western Hemisphere.”

Gen. Kelly also noted the five-year anniversary of the earthquake in Haiti (12 January 2015), saying that the incredible resilience and strength of the Haitian people serves as an inspiration to us all. “And while it’s impossible to say ‘never again’ when it comes to preventing natural disasters, I have no doubt that our nations will be ready. We’re ready to respond, ready to help out, ready to come to the aid of one another—to confront whatever challenge we face.”

The conference included informative sessions, debates, and meetings centered on maintaining the maritime capacity for operations to counter transnational organized crime in an environment of limited resources. The next main regional conference sponsored by SOUTHCOM will be for the Central American countries (CENTSEC), and will take place 22-25 March 2015 in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. “It’s more important to keep building bridges rather than walls,” concluded Dr. Nottage.





Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) claimed responsibility on 15 January 2015 for the rampage that killed 12 people at France's Charlie Hebdo
satirical magazine a week earlier. The attack was years in the making, an AQAP leader said in a video, claiming that U.S.-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki was the mastermind behind it.

This horrific act in France was also a reminder to us all that our shared democratic values—the principles that unite the Western Hemisphere with our European partners—are also vulnerable to attack, said U.S. Marine Corps General John F. Kelly, commander of the United States Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) during his opening remarks at the XIII Caribbean Nations Security Conference (CANSEC). “And we must always be ready to defend our nations from terrorists seeking to harm our citizens or criminals seeking to undermine our institutions. Now, more than ever, we must be vigilant. We must stand together. And we must work together to confront whatever challenge we face,” he added.

Gen. Kelly was preceded by the Royal Bahamas Defence Force Commander, Commodore Roderick Bowe, who briefly stated that, “it was important to rekindle friendships and form new ones,” referring to all countries present at the Conference. Cdre. Bowe then introduced the Bahamian Minister of National Security, Dr. Bernard J. Nottage, who said that one of the major threats in the maritime domain of The Bahamas is human smuggling and illegal immigration, “where thousands seek to leave their homeland in search for a better life.” And he is right. According to the Royal Bahamas Defence Force statistics for the period of 2000 to 2015, over 26,000 illegal immigrants have been apprehended at sea.

Dr. Nottage noted that, like other countries in the area, Bahamians are facing the challenge of dealing with drugs passing through the island—in most cases en route to the United States—but weapons are being left behind and gangs are being established.

And that’s why the main topic of this year’s CANSEC was “Countering Transnational Organized Crime and Threats to Caribbean Territorial Sovereignty.” The conference, co-sponsored by the SOUTHCOM and the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, serves as an executive-level forum for SOUTHCOM and defense and security chiefs from the Caribbean, as well as partners from regional organizations, the U.S. government, Canada, and Europe, to discuss the way ahead for a regional effort and strategy to counter transnational organized crime and build a united front against this shared problem.

“Your participation in CANSEC demonstrates your country’s commitment to Caribbean security—a commitment shared by each and every one of us in this room,” said Gen. Kelly. “To our Canadian, French, British, and Dutch partners: your participation is a testament to the nature of the threat posed by transnational organized crime.”

As with other Caribbean islands, Nassau’s warm waters and stunning vistas create a tropical paradise that nonetheless is not immune to the dangers of transnational organized crime. “When it comes to the security of the Western Hemisphere, it doesn’t matter where you’re located on the map—if it’s a challenge faced by one of us, it’s a challenge faced by all of us,” stated Gen. Kelly.

Representatives included military personnel and civilians from Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos, the United States, regional organizations such as CARICOM, as well as observers from the Inter-American Defense Board, the Netherlands, France, Canada, and the United Kingdom. They gathered in Nassau, Bahamas, from 20-23 January, seeking to work together to address challenges to Caribbean security and sovereignty.

At last year’s CANSEC, participants identified ways to support the new regional illicit-trafficking response strategy of the Caribbean Community Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (CARICOM IMPACS). According to Gen. Kelly, “We’ve done a lot in the past year, and I think we can build on that momentum. This doesn’t just apply to counterdrug operations; I see opportunities for partnering in many different areas, especially when it comes to humanitarian relief, responding to pandemic diseases like Ebola, and energy security.”

During their opening remarks, both Dr. Nottage and Gen. Kelly mentioned that while great progress has been made, the countries in the region still face challenges, such as doing a better job of gathering and sharing information. Their maritime and air-domain capabilities, for example, could be enhanced by better utilizing information-sharing technologies, said Dr. Nottage. “Improved communication among our nations would also help combat the threat of criminal networks and trafficking in illegal firearms and drugs—something that impacts every nation in this room,” added Gen. Kelly.

The SOUTHCOM commander also leveraged his opening remarks to ask the participating nations’ representatives in the room to sign onto the Cooperative Situational Sensor Integration (CSSI) Memorandum of Understanding, the Aerial Intercept Assistance Agreement (AIAA), and the Technical Assistance Field Team (TAFT) agreement. “Your signatories’ commitment will go a long way toward achieving the goals of the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI): to build a more peaceful and prosperous region in a safer and more secure Western Hemisphere.”

Gen. Kelly also noted the five-year anniversary of the earthquake in Haiti (12 January 2015), saying that the incredible resilience and strength of the Haitian people serves as an inspiration to us all. “And while it’s impossible to say ‘never again’ when it comes to preventing natural disasters, I have no doubt that our nations will be ready. We’re ready to respond, ready to help out, ready to come to the aid of one another—to confront whatever challenge we face.”

The conference included informative sessions, debates, and meetings centered on maintaining the maritime capacity for operations to counter transnational organized crime in an environment of limited resources. The next main regional conference sponsored by SOUTHCOM will be for the Central American countries (CENTSEC), and will take place 22-25 March 2015 in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. “It’s more important to keep building bridges rather than walls,” concluded Dr. Nottage.
In the words of Admiral Kelly, "when it comes to security (...), it doesn't matter where you are on the map, if it's a challenge faced by one of us, it's a challenge faced by us all," this gives a sense of security, protection. A union of force and the forces that bring back the idea of a soldier as a national hero. The guarantee of sovereignty. The lid to the tightly closed. Great article. Great news. Great event!
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