Central American Nations and U.S. Exchange Ideas on Military Support to Law Enforcement
By Dialogo August 03, 2012
U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) hosted military leaders and local police forces from Belize, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador on July 31-Aug. 2, in order to exchange ideas on how to strengthen the collaboration between military support to law enforcement in their efforts to counter the activities or transnational organized groups and transnational Organized Crime (C-TOC) operations and the Central American Regional Security Initiative (CARSI).
Because of the increased violence in Central American nations in recent months, due to transnational organized crime activities, the military forces of those countries have been given expanded roles to support their local law enforcement bodies. Attendees at the Military Support to Civil Authority and Policing Strategies Conference came together to discuss how this joint collaboration is taking place and the results it is having.
Jorge Silveira, director of the SOUTHCOM’s Partnering Directorate, opened the conference by saying, “Transnational Organized Crime is unique because it transcends borders and surpasses any one nation, government and agency.” Silveira added that the common interests of the region “can only be advanced if we share our capabilities to leverage the expertise each of us has.”
Among other topics, Colonel Luis Alberto Vega Turcio, deputy chief of intelligence for El Salvador’s Joint Staff, explained how a constitutional amendment created the Plan Anti Crisis (anti-crisis plan) in 2009. The amendment required that country’s military forces to support their local police forces in diminishing crime and executed the creation of four commands dedicated to assist the Civil Police, each one focused on the following missions: controlling rising crime, having a presence in higher-crime areas in which arms trafficking, drugs, murders and kidnappings are evident, enforcing border points to avoid illegal entries and exits, and backing local authorities in national prisons to neutralize contraband within them.
For their part, Brigadier General Manuel Augusto López, deputy chief of staff of Guatemala’s Armed Forces, Lieutenant Colonel Carrillo, from the Honduran Armed Forces, and Major Charlton Roches, operations officer with the Belizean Defense Force also highlighted the operations implemented by their respective countries’ armed forces to provide support to their local civil and police law enforcement bodies.
Col. Vega Turcio stated, “Our mission was to interrupt, setback, disrupt, and neutralize the country’s capacity for crime in order to collaborate in achieving social peace, an environment of social security, balanced economic development and democratic governability,” –an objective common to the approaches by all four partner nations.