Coop­er­a­tion Pro­vides Key for Cen­tral Amer­i­can Secu­ri­ty, South­com Com­man­der Says

By Don­na Miles
Amer­i­can Forces Press Service 

The senior U.S. mil­i­tary offi­cer focused on Latin Amer­i­ca and the Caribbean arrived in Guatemala today to bol­ster the sol­id U.S.-Guatemalan part­ner­ship and under­score the grow­ing impor­tance of inter­na­tion­al and inter­a­gency coop­er­a­tion in pro­tect­ing region­al stability. 

Navy Adm. James Stavridis, com­man­der of U.S. South­ern Com­mand, left his Mia­mi head­quar­ters for Guatemala City, where he will meet with Pres­i­dent Alvaro Colom Caballeros and his senior defense and mil­i­tary lead­ers. Stavridis also plans to vis­it one of Guatemala’s major peace­keep­er train­ing centers. 

Stavridis said that, through­out his vis­it, he’ll echo the mes­sage he deliv­ered just a few days ear­li­er to Hon­duran gov­ern­ment and defense lead­ers in Tegu­ci­gal­pa: Part­ner­ship is vital because no one coun­try can tack­le the region’s transna­tion­al secu­ri­ty chal­lenges alone. 

“In every­thing we do at SOUTHCOM — in every aspect of our secu­ri­ty coop­er­a­tion — our approach is inter­na­tion­al,” Stavridis told Amer­i­can Forces Press Ser­vice Jan. 30 dur­ing his return flight from Hon­duras. “We try to be a force for multi­na­tion­al activ­i­ty, because of the pow­er in every­one work­ing together.” 

SOUTHCOM works active­ly to help part­ner nations build capac­i­ty with­in their armed forces through train­ing pro­grams, bilat­er­al and mul­ti­lat­er­al exer­cis­es and equip­ment contributions. 

While in Guatemala, for exam­ple, Stavridis will help chris­ten three Boston Whaler ves­sels that will sup­port Guatemala’s counter-nar­cotics oper­a­tions. The Unit­ed States pur­chased the launch­es and 20 sets of night-vision gog­gles through a coun­ter­drug secu­ri­ty assis­tance program. 

Days ear­li­er, Hon­duras took deliv­ery of four U.S.-funded “fast boats” to enhance its own capa­bil­i­ties in pro­tect­ing its shores and water­ways from transna­tion­al threats rang­ing from nar­cotics traf­fick­ing to pira­cy to glob­al terrorism. 

That effort, part of SOUTHCOM’s Endur­ing Friend­ship secu­ri­ty assis­tance pro­gram, also includes train­ing in how to oper­ate and main­tain the water­craft, improv­ing Hon­duras’ abil­i­ty to pro­tect its shores. 

Stavridis said he was impressed in Hon­duras by the country’s deep inter­est in inter­na­tion­al coop­er­a­tion and recog­ni­tion of its benefits. 

The day before his arrival, Hon­duran police seized 1.5 met­ric tons of cocaine with an esti­mat­ed street val­ue of $25 mil­lion, as well as an air­craft and two “go-fast” boats used by the drug run­ners. Tipped off by intel­li­gence from SOUTHCOM’s Joint Inter­a­gency Task Force-South coun­ter­drug oper­a­tion based in Key West, Fla., and with track­ing and hand-off involv­ing the U.S., Mex­i­co, and Guatemala, Hon­duran forces swooped in on the traf­fick­ers in their first-ever air­craft interdiction. 

Stavridis called the mis­sion “a huge win” and said it exem­pli­fied the pow­er of cooperation. 

“The Hon­durans were so excit­ed about this drug bust which their forces con­clud­ed, but real­ly was the result of Mex­i­can, U.S., Guatemalan and Hon­duran activ­i­ty com­ing togeth­er, in terms of both intel­li­gence and actu­al activ­i­ty,” he said. “And in all our con­ver­sa­tions, the Hon­durans empha­sized how excit­ed they were about fur­ther inter­na­tion­al cooperation” 

Stavridis praised the part­ner­ships Hon­duras and Guatemala have forged with each oth­er and oth­er neigh­bor­ing nations to pro­mote their shared secu­ri­ty inter­ests. “They work togeth­er on every­thing from trade and the econ­o­my to coun­ternar­cotics, dis­as­ter relief and peace­keep­ing,” he said. 

This coop­er­a­tion, he said, is pay­ing off through increased infor­ma­tion shar­ing and inter­op­er­abil­i­ty, and enhanced capa­bil­i­ty that pro­motes region­al secu­ri­ty and stability. 

Stavridis not­ed the pro­fes­sion­al­ism of the all-vol­un­teer Hon­duran mil­i­tary, which includes a U.N.-certified peace­keep­ing bat­tal­ion. It’s reflec­tive, he said, of the steady demo­c­ra­t­ic lead­er­ship that’s gov­erned Hon­duras since 1983, a stark con­trast to the country’s first 150 volatile years of independence. 

Writ­ing in his per­son­al blog dur­ing the return flight to Mia­mi, Stavridis summed up his impres­sions after two days in Tegucigalpa. 

“After a busy cou­ple of days, I felt good about our secu­ri­ty engage­ment and the con­tin­u­ing part­ner­ship,” he wrote. “Clear­ly our inter­a­gency part­ners are doing fine work in their lane of devel­op­ment and diplo­ma­cy.” He also not­ed that the largest Peace Corps con­tin­gent in the Amer­i­c­as is at work in Honduras. 

“And I felt that our work on secu­ri­ty and defense issues was a help­ful part of the equa­tion,” he wrote. 

Dur­ing all his coun­try vis­its, Stavridis said he car­ries the mes­sage about the strength of inter­a­gency as well as inter­na­tion­al coop­er­a­tion. He said he hopes the U.S. exam­ple can serve as “a pow­er­ful mod­el” for the region. 

While in Hon­duras, he met with the embassy’s coun­try team to dis­cuss secu­ri­ty chal­lenges and ongo­ing ini­tia­tives and pledge con­tin­ued sup­port to the col­lec­tive inter­a­gency effort to help Hon­duras address them. 

Stavridis spends about 75 per­cent of his time vis­it­ing the 45 coun­tries and ter­ri­to­ries in his area of focus, which cov­ers 16 mil­lion square miles. Since tak­ing com­mand two and a half years ago, he fig­ures he’s vis­it­ed just about every coun­try, and many two or three times. 

That’s because, he said, there’s no bet­ter way to fos­ter the rela­tion­ships that lead to pow­er­ful part­ner­ships than face to face. 

Flu­ent in Span­ish, Stavridis said he enjoys talk­ing with offi­cials and reporters alike in their own lan­guage, often sur­pris­ing his hosts in what he views as a sim­ple sign of respect. He’s now study­ing Por­tuguese so he can bet­ter com­mu­ni­cate direct­ly when vis­it­ing Brazil. 

In a region high­ly unlike­ly to expe­ri­ence all-out war, Stavridis calls com­mu­ni­ca­tion the most impor­tant tool in his arse­nal. “In this hemi­sphere, we are in the busi­ness of ideas, not mis­siles,” he said. “Our main bat­tery, so to speak, is communications.” 

And the best way to com­mu­ni­cate, he said, is in person. 

“You can write arti­cles, post to blogs and send out videos and mag­a­zines, but noth­ing can beat per­son­al con­tact,” Stavridis said. “There is real pow­er in human con­tact. It trumps every­thing. And that’s real­ly what these trips are all about.” 

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs) 

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →