JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO – FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas – U.S. Army South hosted the 35th cycle of the Conference of American Armies Specialized Conference on Interoperability and Strategic Planning here last week which included participants representing 16 armies across North and South America.
U.S. Army South is the Army’s action agent and CAA liaison officer responsible for all conference coordination for the U.S. Army. The Army South commanding general typically leads the U.S. delegation during conferences, meetings, and exercises on behalf of the Chief of Staff of the Army.
Maj. Gen. William L. Thigpen, U.S. Army South commanding general, welcomed the senior Army leaders, bringing attention to interoperability and strategic planning.
“Since 1961, when the first conference of American armies met, the purpose of our meeting has been to provide a forum for professional military leaders to exchange information, as well as strengthening partnerships, while building trust between armies,” said Thigpen. "These relationships are increasingly important as we confront the emerging challenges both in the hemisphere as well as globally. We are always stronger together.”
The CAA is an international military organization led by armies from the North and South American continents. The organization conducts a two-year cycle of specialized conferences and exercises hosted by different member armies which culminates in a preparatory conference that reviews the accomplishments of the previous two-year cycle and approves the agenda for the forthcoming CAA Commanders’ Conference.
The CAA provides a venue for the U.S. Army Chief of Staff to engage in multilateral and bilateral dialogue with his counterparts from Central and South American and Caribbean partners and allied nations.
Rafael Nigaglioni, program manager and liaison officer for the Conference of American Armies, reiterated the importance of strong partnerships and cohesion between partner nation armies.
“Interoperability among partner nations is extremely important as it facilitates a smoother flow of collective efforts between partner nations that normally share different equipment, language and capabilities as they work together towards the same mission objectives,” said Nigaglioni.
Chilean Army Col. Aldo A. Vergara-Sierra, the Chilean Army’s lead delegate during the conference, emphasized the event was an opportunity to strengthen military-to-military relationships and partnerships, while discussing ways to increase interoperability.
“From my perspective it was a great opportunity to share and exchange experiences and knowledge regarding interoperability between each of our armies,” said Vergara-Sierra. “I had the chance to present our lessons learned from Southern Vanguard 2021, performed in a snowy mountain scenario in Chile with the U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division. During the event, Maj. Gen. Thigpen conducted bilateral meetings with several nations to address shared goals, training opportunities and ways to strengthen the integration and collaboration to confront regional challenges.”
Secretary General of the Conference of American Armies, Brazilian Army Gen. De Divisão Paulo Roberto Rodrigues Pimentel, viewed the discussion as an opportunity to facilitate an exchange of information and cooperation between the attending armies.
“There's no way to seek the army of the future without seeking the joint employment of friendly arms,” said Pimentel. “Interoperability and strategic planning grow in importance to face the threats and the challenges to come. This specialized confidence will be of great value since the lessons learned will facilitate the exchange of information, integration, and cooperation.”
The planning, coordination and execution of the CAA proved to be a success according to Maj. Christopher Feliciano, U.S. Army CAA conference coordinator.
“CAA is a strengthening of ties, bonds and partnerships,” said Feliciano. “What's important is also going to be the exchange of information we bring this year and tons of experience from interoperability in our agencies.”
The CAA Specialized Conference on Interoperability and Strategic Planning ended with parting words from, Brig. Gen. Lynn Heng, U.S. Army South deputy commanding general.
“I'm grateful for your valuable collaboration during this conference that showcased our collective army's contribution to strengthening security in our hemisphere that we all call home,” said Heng. “Together, we have started to create some great products that will assist all of us on this important topic. Your work here this week contributes greatly to the overall effectiveness of the CAA.”