U.S. Army South hosts Conference of American Armies in San Antonio
June 17, 2008
FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas - U.S. Army South played host last week to the Conference of American Armies, an organization of 20 member armies, five observer armies and two international military organizations that seeks to promote cohesion, improve hemispheric security and strengthen inter-American friendships on an army-to-army basis.
Planned and organized by U.S. Army South's International Military Affairs office, the theme of this year's conference was the CAA's contribution to peacekeeping operations through the creation and application of procedures that improve the capabilities and interoperability of CAA member armies.
"The spirit of CAA is the democratic spirit," said Argentinian Col. Roberto MuAfA+-oz BetelAfA(th), the CAA's Permanent Executive Secretary, setting the tone of the conference during his opening remarks on Tuesday. "It is the spirit of peace, harmony, camaraderie, and friendship."
MuAfA+-oz was followed by Brazilian Col. Andres L. Novaes Miranda, who gave a detailed briefing of his army's experience leading the UN stabilization mission in Haiti, MINUSTAH, a mission that has earned Brazil praise from partner nations throughout the hemisphere and across the world.
After the opening presentations Tuesday, conference participants separated into two working groups, one focused on creating a process for testing and validating CAA manuals, the other on developing a process for updating and improving them. In addition, both groups were tasked to recommend topics and objectives for the next CAA procedures conference.
"It was an extraordinary experience for me," said one of the group leaders, Lt. Col. Mario Fernandes of the Brazilian Army Special Forces. A veteran of peacekeeping operations in Angola and South America, this was his first time participating in the Conference of American Armies.
"Once you come to this conference you have a different understanding of the importance of the connection between our armies," he added. "The purpose is to use our military forces for the greater good, in peacekeeping operations or in disaster relief. The importance of this initiative continues."
"The work this conference is doing is just incredible," says Maj. Gen. Keith M. Huber, the commander of U.S. Army South. "It says a lot about how far we've come in this hemisphere that our respective armies can come together, in a spirit of brotherhood and cooperation, and work together so effectively and seamlessly for such a noble cause."
"We really are one American family, and this conference underscores that important fact more than words ever can."
Argentina, as the newly selected host army of CAA, will lead the 20 member armies through several other conferences over the next two years as they continue to prepare for future peacekeeping and disaster-relief operations throughout the world.