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(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas - Seven senior Partner Nation leaders from Central America and the Dominican Republic came together at U.S. Army South headquarters March 16-19 to discuss mutual security interests.

Army South sponsored the annual Central America Regional Leaders Conference for participating partner nations to promote regional security cooperation amongst senior executive decision-makers in the areas of interoperability, information sharing, and countering transnational organized crime.

"The CRLC provides a forum for Central America, the Caribbean, and Army South senior army and security forces leadership to dialogue on mutually significant issues affecting their nations from a regional perspective; in order to facilitate regional security coordination and collaboration efforts and options," said Col. Robert "Rocky" Burrell, Director of the Regional Affairs Directorate at Army South.

Maj. Gen. Joseph P. DiSalvo, the Army South commanding general, stressed that his intent for the conference was for an open dialogue among the participants about criminal and security issues in the region and how leaders can mitigate the problem in the long run through mutual cooperation.

During the conference, each partner nation senior leader identified the significant threats in the region such as organized crime and a subsequent assessment of the situation and actions needed to eliminate the problem.

According to Burrell, the CRLC provides the opportunity to bring together not only military leaders, but also partner nation senior police leaders, allowing for better coordination against regional threats.

At the end of the conference, all leaders were in agreement that it is necessary to have unity of effort and unity of command that would incorporate both military and security forces in the region in order to address mutual security issues.

"The strong will to work together to counter transnational organized crime was prominently evident among the participating partner nations," said Burrell.

This annual conference promotes continued regional security cooperation and mutual security interests; develops and strengthens senior executive-level relationships; and provides a forum for potential regional Senior Executive Leader decision-making through first-person interaction.

"This conference is a platform that brings together not only the armed forces but the police in the region. Our relations with our partner nations are strong and I am confident that together we can achieve great success," stated DiSalvo.