Twelve countries gather at Southcom to discuss Information Operations tactics
By Dialogo April 25, 2014
With the goal of strengthening Western Hemisphere security cooperation and providing a forum for nations to discuss Information Operations (IO) strategies, doctrines, organizations, planning requirements, legal constraints, and integration into operations, U.S. Northern and U.S. Southern Commands co-sponsored an exchange between military personnel from the Bahamas, Belize, Canada, Chile, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Peru and the United States met at the SOUTHCOM headquarters in Miami. Other participants included representatives from NORTHCOM and SOUTHCOM Public Affairs, Strategic Communications and Civil Affairs. The Subject Matter Expert Exchange (SMEE) – the third of its kind – took place from 22-25 April.
In his opening remarks, Major General Mark Nowland, SOUTHCOM Chief of Staff, said: “The most important thing [for the participants] is to establish relationships and networks, and act on them while the iron is hot. The value of sharing is fantastic,” while Colonel Miguel Hobbs, Chief of SOUTHCOM’s IO division (J39), added: “Information Operations should always be coordinated, synchronized and integrated with other actions and messages. This SMEE helped to foster partner nations’ collaboration in building a synergistic IO capability in order to combat common threats in the region.”
Each country had 30 minutes to make their presentations and answer questions during the first couple of days of the conference. Then, representatives were separated into workshops to review scenarios and put together a combined presentation, which they later shared with the other nations.
Honduran Army LTC Norman Ayax Medrano Sandoval pointed out that, “many of the ideas that have been shared this week can be brought back to each of our home countries. It was the first time I participated in this SMEE and I was pleasantly surprised with everything that was discussed here.”
The conference offered a venue for each participating country to learn the way other partner nations respond to and confront common threats. Participants from various nations highlighted the share threat of transnational organized crime, and illegal trafficking of weapons and persons as a major national security challenge.
Representatives from all the participating partner nations said they anticipate continuing to strengthen their relationships and improve interoperability with SOUTHCOM, NORTHCOM and amongst themselves. “The knowledge we gained during this SMEE is phenomenal. I believe we will all be able to go back to our countries and educate our units on what we learned and what was said here. I am sure we are all looking forward to other events like this with our counterparts. This offered unique lessons learned and experiences from each participant nation,” concluded Colombian Army COL Oscar Lopez Barreto.
The joint partnerships of all these nations is remarkable. Well done. A good exercise for building up coexistence in the region.