JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas - Military and government agency representatives from Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador and the United States gathered in San Salvador, El Salvador Dec. 5-10 during a regional interagency professional development exchange conference conducted by U.S. Army South.
The conference provided a platform for participants to gain understanding and improve partner nations' capability to plan, command and control, integrate, synchronize and coordinate diverse tasks of countering transnational organized crime.
"All participating military and civilian agencies opened dialogue on how to work together to plan interagency responses in dealing with countering transnational organized crime and the use of civil military cooperation and military information support operations in support of interagency coordination," said Lt. Col. Larry Roberts, Chief of Army Space Support Element and Special Technical Operations, Army South.
Throughout the conference, participants discussed transnational organized crime within the U.S. Southern Command's areas of operation to include illegal arms trafficking; illegal immigration; money laundering; the capacity to collect intelligence and conduct intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance operations in high crime areas; and tactics that worked to combat transnational organized crime in El Salvador, Peru and Haiti.
During the conference, David Decker from the National War College provided a briefing on government practices and programs that have been successful in building civilian support for the government.
"The issue of transnational crime was common for the attendees, but many presented diverse means in dealing with their local issues and they shared their experiences and best practices," said Col. Jeffrey Coggin, 321st Civil Affairs Brigade Commander, another conference briefer.
El Salvador was selected by the Central American Armed Forces Conference community to be the Center of Excellence for Counter-Transnational Organized Crime-related training and this conference provided awareness to El Salvador's Regional Anti-Terrorism and Transnational Crime Training Center.
As a conference participant, Coggin witnessed firsthand the benefits of the event for partner nations and the United States.
"I saw [the benefit of the conference] through the thoughtful and inquisitive participation demonstrated by every attendee," said Coggin. "It was professional throughout. The level of interest in every topic was high, and the dialogue between participants was very engaging to provide their experiences as well as learn from others."
This conference is one of several engagements provided for in the long-term Theater Security Cooperation Plan between the United States and its regional partner nations.
According to Roberts, the conference was a valuable opportunity for the Central American Armed Forces Conference community to continue sharing experiences and strengthening the joint effort to defeat emerging threats that are currently impacting their countries.
"El Salvador civil affairs requested to host this regional professional development exchange on counter transnational organized crime-related topics and this seminar symbolizes their increased level of operational readiness to fulfill missions entrusted to them," Roberts said.