The Argentine Secretary of Strategy and Military Affairs, Ángel Tello, along with other leaders, were in Washington, D.C. to participate in meetings with the U.S. Department of Defense, with the main objective of deepening bilateral relations and resuming bilateral military exchanges.
A New Era in Argentine-U.S. Relations
Bilateral relations between the U.S. and Argentina have improved noticeably since President Mauricio Macri assumed office on December 2015 and his U.S. counterpart Barack Obama visited Buenos Aires in March. President Obama's visit was the first time an American president visited Argentina in almost 11 years.
Renewing Military Cooperation Between the Two Countries
Noteworthy among the main topics discussed by the heads of state during bilateral meetings are: aid for re-equipping and promoting shared interests in the area of security and defense; the intensification of the fight against drug trafficking, terrorism and organized crime; protecting and monitoring the Triple Frontier separating Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil; military missions in Africa; and deepening hemispheric defense ties. Both countries indicated their desire to move forward with mutual aid for catastrophes, emergencies, and disaster response and preparedness.
"We anticipate that the United States will help develop the capacities of law enforcement, specifically assisting the Department of Justice, with respect to terrorism and the financing of terrorism in the region of the Triple Frontier," announced Secretary Tello. During the meeting, officials also signed the Agreement on Preventing and Combating Serious Crime, intended to expedite the exchange of information on known and potential criminals and terrorists.
U.S. Army Colonel Willie Berges, chief of the Political-Military Affairs and Policy Division at U.S. Southern Command, said, “To demonstrate the willingness for both nations to work together and share information. We have invited the government of Argentina to send Liaison officers to HQ USSOUTHCOM and JIATF-S in Key West. We expect to have agreements signed for both Liaison officers in the near future."
Meanwhile, Tello noted that in August of 2016, the U.S. Treasury Department will organize the first Bilateral Working Group with the Argentine Armed Forces. "The agenda includes topics related to disaster response and preparedness, peacekeeping, and hemispheric cooperation on defense," he said. He also highlighted their interest in strengthening relations between the two countries ahead of the next Conference of Defense Ministers of the Americas, which will take place in October of this year in Trinidad and Tobago. To this end, a working group was created to promote a political dialogue to promote cooperation as well as to define common goals in the region for defense and hemispheric security.
Military Missions in Africa
During the meetings, the countries agreed that the United States would help strengthen Argentine capacities to increase the size of its deployable military units, and therefore expand its participation in different peace missions on African territory. Tello pointed out that "the U.S. commitment to allow Argentina to increase its presence in peacekeeping missions in Africa is very important since the U.S. is the main source of financing for U.N. peacekeeping operations (28 percent)."
"This commitment includes the training and modernization of the C-130 cargo transport aircraft fleet used by the South American country on African territory as well as a resource review for the Argentine Joint Training Center for Peacekeeping Operations (CAECOPAZ), all of which is anticipated to occur in a two-year period (2016-2018).
Combating Drug Trafficking, Organized Crime and Terrorism
According to the Logistics Secretary of the Argentine Defense Ministry, Walter Ceballos, within the framework of the "Agreement on Preventing and Combating Serious Crime," the United States committed to assisting the Argentine security forces on terrorism and the financing of terrorism in the Triple Frontier region (Argentina, Paraguay, and Brazil). Accordingly, Argentine officials are expected to receive training at the International Police Academy and to carry out study visits to the United States, where they will receive training from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The FBI will also help the Defense Ministry to establish a national network of Intelligence Fusion Centers to detect and interrupt terrorism and organized crime.
Secretary Ceballos indicated that there is a "strong commitment in the fight against drug trafficking and international terrorism on the part of the new government."
Satisfied with the Results
"Argentina has managed to resume a political dialogue that occurred regularly in the relationship between Argentina and the United States. This resumption of dialogue is a part of President Mauricio Macri's goal of returning to the world," affirmed Secretary Tello to Diálogo. "The meetings that took place with members of the Pentagon have been excellent, so that opens the door to great possibilities for working together," he added.