International security, intelligence leaders share ideals, enrich partnerships
By Dialogo September 12, 2014
Military and civilian representatives from 30 countries around the world attended the 6th annual Hemispheric Security and Intelligence Forum (FISH) Aug. 17 – 20 here.
The purpose of the forum was to share experiences and ideals regarding security and intelligence, while continuing to building stronger partnerships among attending nations.
“The number one objective with FISH is that the attendees build relationships among each other,” said David Shedd, the U.S. Defense Intelligence acting director. “That will hopefully lead them to a proclivity to share more information among themselves and define solutions for some of these very difficult problems we have that are by their very nature transnational. A fusion of intelligence leads to a better outcome than each element of their intelligence community—if they have one—going it alone.”
The ability to share information and have strong relationships is critical for Americans operating in Central and South America, especially when, according to U.N. statistics, two of the most violent countries on the planet are in that area of operations: Honduras and Guatemala. Forums like these put faces to names for military leaders when they need to get the job done in an emergency.
“In our business, every second counts.” said U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Thomas Geary, U.S. Southern Command's Director of Intelligence. “Our conference has focused on intelligence and security across the region, and our continuing efforts to share information as we expand and build new partnerships.”
“The security challenges we’re facing are not limited to a country’s border, especially when we consider the Transnational Criminal Organizations that are fueling corruption, eroding good governance, and deteriorating regional security. The threat is here; it is real; and it is vitally important for us to share information and know who to call because our partners are critical to our shared efforts at countering these serious security issues.”
Beyond operational assistance, there are grander reasons for the United States to strengthen the bonds with its southern partners. While eyes continue to look to the crisis in the Middle East and Eastern Europe, many Americans have overlooked actions taking place within the Western Hemisphere.
“We owe it to ourselves to invest in Mexico, Central America and South America,” said Shedd, who served at U.S. embassies in Costa Rica and Mexico in the 80s and 90s. “Why? Among other reasons, they’re our neighbors. It’s what we need to do in terms of our own national security. But even more importantly, it’s to help raise the standard of living and to help improve the way of living for those countries.”
Otherwise, if we don’t help them, other counties with nefarious intentions may see this void, take advantage of a dire situation and move in, Shedd said.
“So, the whole relationship with our Latin American partners is critical, not just for the United States, but also for these countries,” Shedd added.
Meanwhile, there continues to be progress in region as evidenced by the host of this year’s forum: Colombia.
Colombian Minister of Defense Juan Carlos Pinzón was among those in attendance. “My country is very proud of how far it has come, Pinzon, said adding, “We have made great strides in combating the drug trade and human rights violations.”
"With diplomacy, of course ... it's necessary to pursue collaboration." said Juan Carlos Pinzón, the Colombian Minister of Defense. He added:“(However,) It's necessary, for the groups (against Colombia) to be confronted with all that the state has available.”
The successes of countries like Colombia give Shedd hope for the future of the region. He hopes that with forums like this, the United States can continue to help build the partner relationships of the nations at this forum, and to help encourage others to build a better future for themselves.
“Colombia is a real bright spot. The success here speaks to the necessity of the United States to invest for the long term and not back away,” Shedd said, adding, “But Colombia is not over the finish line yet and we should not pull out too soon. Chile is an enormous success story, and Peru is also doing some great things. I think the success of information sharing in Brazil for counterterrorism at the World Cup was outstanding. I think we have to see how Venezuela and Bolivia and Ecuador will come out, but I’m very pleased with the direction this region is headed.”
The progress made by the Colombian intelligence service is threatened by the politicization of Colombia's armed forces and police. We are on the brink of suffering setbacks to this progress which is important to national security and even hemispheric security. It would be interesting for you to go in depth regarding the national intelligence project in Uruguay, which will become law, and it includes national defense and national security. It is a broad law which looks at every possible area of attention regarding intelligence, above all everything concerning borders and human trafficking and drugs. A collaboration with bordering countries would be important, and establishing a regional intelligence program, most of all because of the threat of terrorism in the U.S., which could spread throughout the South American region. Personnel has to be trained, which would come to be through regional agreements. Interesting forum. As of now, the conflict in Colombia has become a kind of cancer throughout the region, threatening peace, security and regional stability, illegal insurgent groups, counter-insurgent paramilitary groups, and in many cases, state groups have turned the conflict into a kind of corporation for their own dealings and interests, ok Within the framework of the Colombian conflict, the government hasn't negotiated a peace treaty, nor has it put an end to those illegal groups, whether they are paramilitary or guerilla. The conflict spilled over the borders years ago, the international community needs to press for an arrangement or intervene and put an end to that cancer, drugs, another global threat that comes from there The countries of the Security Council along with Canada, Mexico and Brazil, should come up with a joint strategy to begin to strongly counter that threat called Colombian armed conflict, weapons embargo, aero-naval blockade, bring in AWAC systems, drones, smart weapons, submarines and ships selective targets, rapid deployment forces The paramilitary groups are just as murderous as the guerrilla, state groups also associated with transnational groups, the Colombian government administrations have done very little to eradicate poverty, out of control population growth, damage to the environment, etc. Capital flight, brain drain, anyway, a breeding ground for armed groups