Inter-American Defense College Promotes Debate on Hemispheric Security and Defense
By Dialogo October 15, 2012
Heated debates on class conflict took place during the Inter-American Defense College’s 50th Anniversary Symposium, celebrated in Fort Lesley McNair, Washington, D.C, from October 10 – 12. That is how Admiral Mariano Francisco Saynez Mendoza, Mexican Navy Secretary, described it when he humorously referred to the “rivalry” between graduates that, throughout the event, competed over and over for the title of the best class ever to attend the institution. “I think that we will finally agree that all classes have been as good as the ‘27,” he said about his graduating class.
Along with Admiral Saynez Mendoza, over 300 graduates, students and professors, as well as ambassadors, academics, and active and retired police and military members from over a dozen countries traveled to the U.S. capital to celebrate the golden birthday of a school that contributed to the training of nearly 2,500 security and defense leaders in the Western Hemisphere.
Guided by the theme “The Role of Armed Forces in Hemispheric Security,” the symposium recognized the complexity of a present characterized by multiple challenges and threats and which requires us to reconsider definitions, roles, and ways to confront new dangers. “As traditional notions of defense and security are redefined, the armed forces of the Americas will continue to be called upon to fill new, critical roles in support of national security initiatives,” indicated Rear Admiral Jeffrey A. Lemmons, director of the Inter-American Defense College (IADC).
The opening ceremony was celebrated at the IADC’s auditorium in Fort McNair, where Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina gave attendees an eloquent pre-recorded inaugural speech. Pérez Molina, who attended the Inter-American Defense College between 1988 and 1989, admitted that what he learned has helped him enormously in his role as president. He said, “It allowed me to know the realities of other countries, their versions, their truths … and, at the same time, I was able to share those of my country. I made enduring friendships, and forged clear, trustworthy and permanent communication channels.”
That honest and respectful communication characterized the three days of discussions that opened the debate on hemispheric defense and security genealogy, the diagnosis on the current security challenges in the hemisphere, and the perspectives about future initiatives on security and defense. Conducted in Spanish, Portuguese, and English, the panels were led by academics, civic, military, and diplomatic leaders from several nations, including Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru, Spain, the United States, and a CARICOM representative, among others.
Some of the event’s panelists included General (retired) Oswaldo Jarrín, former Ecuadoran Defense Minister; Admiral (retired) Jorge Montoya, former Chief of the Joint Command of Peru’s Armed Forces; and General (retired) James T. Hill, Commander of the U.S. Southern Command between 2002 and 2004, all of whom answered sharp questions and fostered honest discussions. “The college’s students learned here to speak honestly and to respect the opinions of others,” stated Adm. Montoya.
According to Adm. Montoya, the school would be the ideal vehicle to create an Inter-American network of academic information exchange to enable continued debate about certain subjects, such as the need to train and update police forces in different countries, the temporary nature of military intervention in citizen security, hemispheric cooperation in countering drug trafficking and organized crime, the validity or lack thereof of applying the Colombian Armed Forces’ experience in combating the FARC in other nations such as Mexico, and to evaluate the need of a system of hemispheric security.
Michelle Bachelet, former Chilean president and current executive director of UN Women, attended the closing ceremony with others, including OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza.
Founded in 1962, the IADC, which is a part of the Organization of American States, offers advanced courses on human rights, international relations, leadership, strategic analysis, civil-military relations, and conflict negotiation and resolution, to cite a few. In addition, students can obtain a Master’s Degree in Hemispheric Defense and Security Studies, as a result of an agreement with Chile’s National Academy of Political and Strategic Studies (ANEPE).
The higher education center has a proven record of successful graduates, including three presidents, 24 defense ministers, almost 800 generals and admirals, and several legislative and ministerial government and police leaders.
I enjoyed very much and I congratulate the Defense Inter-American College 50th anniversary celebration, operating under the Organization of American States. I had a nice visit at the school and I was courteously hosted at Fort Lesley MacNair, in 1966, as a scholarship student from the US State Department. I remember the participation of the honorable Brazilian General Carlos de Meira Mattos, 2nd World War Veteran, who worked as CIDâ€™s Vice-Director. These meetings are a positive affirmation of the Americas Defense system participantâ€™s integration, for a greater cooperation, integration and security aiming the American countries development, as well as strengthening the friendship bonds between the people and their countries. Ney de Araripe Sucupira, Public Relations Director of the Graduates from the Escola Superior de Guerra â€“ ESG (the Brazilianâ€™s Army College of Defense) â€“ SÃ£o Paulo Representation Office An article published in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the CID, synthesizes the academic context on which civilian and military officials in the American hemisphere perceive the security and defense, its diagnosis and advances to deal with current threats. Congratulations to the Dialogo magazine for its contribution to the Inter-American Defense College.