SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador (July 27, 2015) -- U.S. Army South, as the Army service component command for U.S. Southern Command, on behalf of the Army's chief of staff, conducted staff talks with the Salvadoran army in San Salvador, El Salvador, July 13-16, to foster a bilateral partnership, discuss ways to counter transnational organized threats and plan mutual training engagements over the coming three years to promote increased interaction between the United States and Salvadoran Armies.
"Our armies have a close and mutually-beneficial relationship built on friendship and trust, which we have continued to strengthen through the years," said Maj. Gen. K.K. Chinn, the U.S. Army South commanding general and head of the U.S. delegation.
For the past year, staff officers from each army have met in steering sessions to plan all future engagements between the two armies. During senior engagement sessions, the heads of each delegation meet to sign memorandums of understanding outlining those Agreed to Actions, or ATAs, which are subject matter expert and educational engagements.
These ATAs are focused on developing objectives with partner nation armies with shared responsibilities.
The staff talks executive meeting allows participants to share experiences, update and strengthen the knowledge to combat transnational threats, which affect the security of their respective countries, such as drug trafficking, money laundering, illegal trafficking of people and weapons, among others.
During the three days of talks, the two delegations drafted a list of approximately 20 ATAs, which covered a wide range of professional exchanges designed to improve capabilities and the working relationship between the two armies.
During last year's staff talks, a key point of discussion was the development of a regional center of excellence to assist in countering transnational threats. One way both armies hope to make progress against these threats is through the development of a Regional Training Center for Counter Transnational Crime. This institution, located in El Salvador, will serve as a base of instruction and training and will be available to all Central American countries to improve their capabilities to counter these threats.
The goal is to have this center operational by 2016. Under the current guidelines, El Salvador will facilitate the infrastructure with Army South support, while the United States will support El Salvador in developing the program of instruction and by conducting instructor exchanges.
Of note this year is the strengthening of the Salvadoran Fusion Cell, which supports the special forces, commando de Montana, and Grupo Cuscatlan of the Salvadoran army. The intent of strengthening the cell is to increase its analytical capacity and effectiveness in support of the fight against emerging threats in the region.
In addition, Mejia provided the U.S. delegation with a presentation of a Salvadoran army anti-crime unit tasked with assisting the Salvadoran civil police force, and a tour and demonstration of the Salvadoran army special operations training compound.
Other themes discussed included humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
"These meetings assist both armies because we are able to discuss solutions to problems that affect both of our countries," said Salvadoran Brig. Gen. Armando Mejia, Salvadoran army commander and head of the Salvadoran delegation. "Our armies have enjoyed a friendship for many years. This will allow us to continue to work together to make this region safer."
This year's meeting marks the ninth time the two armies have come together to re-affirm their regional partnership, which has become beneficial not only to El Salvador and the United States, but to the rest of the region as well.
"Although we continue to face common threats such as state and non-state actors that continually threaten global stability, we will stand together, as partners, to enhance our armies as trusted professionals and to increase our interoperability as we seek peace, stability, and prosperity both within the region and throughout the world," Chinn said.
Army South also conducts staff talks with the armies of Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Peru on behalf of the Army's chief of staff.