Western Hemisphere military leaders agree to cooperate against terrorism and effects of climate change
By Dialogo November 08, 2013
Military commanders from throughout the Americas recently discussed international cooperation, training, science and technology, education and other topics during the XXX Conference of American Armies (CCA).
Army commanders and other military representatives from Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, United States, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru, Dominican Republic, and Uruguay, the United States, and Canada met for the conference in Mexico City from Oct. 21 through Oct. 25 2013.
The Army of Belize, the Conference of Central American Armed Forces, and the Inter-American Defense Board participated as observers.
“It is an honor to participate in an event of this importance, used to address the major challenges of the Armed Forces in the region, and to foster an atmosphere of camaraderie,” said Gen. Werter Araya, President of the Council of Delegates of the Inter-American Defense Board (IADB).
Two-year agreements were passed as a result, and delegations showed respect for the laws of each of the member states at all times.
Climate change concerns
The effects of climate change – such as extreme weather – were one of the key topics military commanders discussed during the conference. Climate change can lead to extreme weather, such as strong storms or droughts, according to a consensus of scientists. Extreme weather can impact the civilian population.
Military commanders approved the “Operations Guide for Disaster Relief.” The guidebook will help the military forces of different countries in the Americas maintain cooperation and communication when helping the civilian population during natural emergencies, officials said.
Many of the Armed Forces in the Americas help their civilian populations during such natural disasters.
For example, the Mexican military assisted more than one million civilians who were affected by Hurricane Ingrid and Hurricane Manuel, which slammed into the country’s Pacific coast in September 2013.
Mexican security forces have assisted the population in several other major natural disasters and accidents in recent months:
• In July 2013, Army soldiers and Civil Protection units, including local police agents, worked together to evacuate more than 1,000 people from several municipalities in Chihuahua state which suffered severe flooding caused by four days of heavy rains.
• In April 2013, hundreds of municipal police officers in the Federal District and eight nearby states streamed onto the streets to provide security and greater visibility after an earthquake shook the region. The earthquake was felt in Michoacan, Guerrero, Jalisco, Oaxaca, Morelos, Puebla, Veracruz and the State of Mexico.
In recent years, strong earthquakes caused serious damage in Peru, Costa Rica, and Chile, The Armed Forces of each of those countries helped the civilian populations of their respective countries.
Colombia prepares to receive the CCA
Colombia’s National Army will host the CCA in 2014 and 2015.
Colombian authorities are prepared to host the conference, said Maj. Gen. Juan Pablo Rodriguez, the military commander representing the Colombian delegation.
“We continue to move forward without faltering faith in the cause, to consolidate the challenges the future has posed for the National Army of Colombia, to continue empowering as an integral force that devotes its efforts to the achievement of peace and the welfare of the population,” Rodríguez said.
“Natural disaster relief, environmental conservation, the fight against drug trafficking, and ongoing mutual cooperation will be the key pillars to strengthening our bonds of friendship,” the military official added.
The next CCA is scheduled to take place in Colombia in February 2014.
The new mission is to modernize
The 16 commanders who participated in the CCA agreed that the Armed Forces of the continent must modernize in order to confront new threats.
The military commanders who participated in the 2012 CCA in Peru concluded that the Armed Forces of their countries should have the most advanced technology to detect and neutralize improvised explosive devices, which are used by terrorist groups. The participants of the 2012 CCA also pledged to modernize their military forces.
History of the CCA
The CCA was formed in 1960 as an international forum of Army commanders of the Western hemisphere. It is governed by internal rules approved by all commanders of CCA member states.
The 20 countries which are CCA member states include Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, United States, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru, Dominican Republic, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay, and Venezuela. The five observer armies are from Barbados, Belize, Guyana, Jamaica, and Suriname.