U.S. Southern Command strengthens relationship in Trinidad and Tobago
By Dialogo October 07, 2013
For the second year in a row, the U.S. Southern Command’s Deputy J5 and members of the Political Military Affairs Caribbean Branch visited Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, from September 17-19 to meet with key leaders and planning staff from the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS) to foster greater collaboration and synchronization between both allies.
The coordination visit focused, not only on current and long term Caribbean security cooperation planning between SOUTHCOM and CARICOM, but also on fostering discussion, collaboration, and joint planning on a number of events, strategies, initiatives, exercises and programs taking place or being developed in 2014.
One of these is the CARICOM Caribbean Counter Illicit Trafficking Strategy (CCITS), a strategy involving the development of a joint, regional strategy to disrupt transnational organized crime networks that include the illicit trafficking of drugs, humans and weapons in the waters of the Caribbean. The framework for CCITS was discussed as a concept in last year’s Caribbean Nations Security Conference (CANSEC), but has now been developed and received the commitment of the 15 Caribbean nations to be fully implemented. The goal for CARICOM IMPACS is to have the proclamation officially announced at the 2014 edition of CANSEC scheduled for the last week of January 2014 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic .
The Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI) is another program discussed during the coordination visit. Designed by the United States to ensure citizen safety and security throughout the hemisphere, it brings all members of CARICOM as well as the Dominican Republic together to collaborate jointly on regional security with the United States as a partner of choice. Interagency and international coordination to fully implement the initiative is ongoing through new forums that are being identified and activated.
Mr Francis A. Forbes, IMPACS executive director, also confirmed their participation in Tradewinds 2014, a SOUTHCOM-sponsored annual exercise crafted to provide Caribbean nations training for the security requirements required for major events.
The agency made a commitment to leveraging various CARICOM forums essential to achieve full implementation of the Cooperative Situational Information Integration system, or CSII, a web-based information exchange platform that uses state-of-the-art technology to make multinational cooperation faster, easier and more seamless for participating nations in the fight against trafficking and transnational organized crime.
For their part, SOUTHCOM noted that IMPACS has grown significantly stronger and more stable in the last year, since instituting permanent leadership and receiving full endorsement of their core regional security missions and their proposed Regional Crime and Security Strategy by CARICOM’s political leaders.
“IMPACS remains a strong partner for strengthening and expanding multi-lateral regional security cooperation in the Caribbean because it has a significant ability and potential to coordinate and gain military and political consensus from CARICOM member states on regional security issues,” said Steven Klingel, Caribbean Desk Officer at SOUTHCOM’s Political-Military Affairs Division.
Following the success of the September visit, both parties committed to holding biannual coordination meetings from now on.