PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad -- “…our borders individually and collectively, now more than ever before are under significant threat from traffickers who are not constrained by financial, political or legal challenges but instead are highly motivated by nothing more than targeted profit margins.” These were the sentiments expressed by Francis Forbes, interim executive director of Caribbean Community Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (CARICOM IMPACS) when he addressed representatives of the United States Southern Command (US SOUTHCOM) during their reciprocal visit to the agency earlier this month.
A delegation from US SOUTHCOM led by SES, Steven Wetzel – Deputy J5, met with key leadership and staff of the CARICOM IMPACS during the period 05-07 September 2012. Their visit was part of ongoing efforts by the two agencies to strengthen regional security cooperation in the Caribbean.
Discussions focused on joint planning of a strategic framework for counter illicit trafficking in the Caribbean; development of a CARICOM Caribbean defense and security strategy; the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI); the proposed Cooperative Sensor and Information Integration (CSII) initiative; CANSEC 2013; as well as other crime and security related initiatives.
Forbes expressed hope that the conclusion of the two-day deliberation would see the advancement of “the regional security agenda to the benefit of our people and to the detriment of those who make a living through illicit trafficking in all its aspects.”
During their visit, representatives from US SOUTHCOM received presentations on the mission and capabilities of CARICOM IMPACS and its sub-agencies. The delegation, which included J5, J7 and J2 SOUTHCOM representatives, also conducted site visits of CARICOM IMPACS Headquarters and its sub-agencies - Joint Regional Communications Centre in Barbados as well as the Regional Intelligence Fusion Center in Trinidad.
US SOUTHCOM is responsible for providing US military contingency planning, operations, and security cooperation with Central and South America as well as the Caribbean (except US commonwealths, territories, and possessions).