Conference of American Armies ends legal conference hosted by Army South, chaired by CG of U.S. JAG school
SAN ANTONIO – U.S. Army South hosted representatives from 15 partner-nation armies during the Conference of American Armies Legal Conference July 16-19 in downtown San Antonio.
The purpose of the conference was to bring together military legal practitioners from the CAA partner armies and discuss operational law lessons learned in disaster relief and peacekeeping operations, and discuss mechanisms by which to enhance information sharing between CAA partners.
This year’s Legal Conference marks the first time the U.S. Army and Army South hosted and organized an event of this nature for the CAA.
The Commandant and Commanding General of the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center and School, Brig. Gen. Thomas E. Ayres chaired the conference and stated partner nations of CAA will benefit from participating in this gathering.
“Partner nation members’ ability to improve interoperability and understand common legal issues that occur when responding to disasters or while executing peacekeeping operations is beneficial to all armies that are part of CAA,” said Ayres.
Lt. Col. Luis O. Rodriguez, the former Army South command judge advocate general, said this conference was vital to Army South’s efforts toward building partner nation capacity within the Western Hemisphere and establishing and re-affirming existing friendships that prove to be valuable when conducting multinational operations within the region.
“It is important because the CAA recognizes that there are many legal aspects in peacekeeping and disaster relief operations that can be shared to improve interoperability,” said Rodriguez.
Rodriguez is confident the conference will pave the way for a more streamlined and universal approach to dealing with legal issues in the face of humanitarian and disaster relief operations.
“CAA partners will now have better legal tools as a result of this conference,” said Rodriguez. “For instance, the CAA Rules of Engagement Manual and the CAA Operational Law Guide will get updated in the conference, and we hope to set up a website where CAA partners can post and share legal lessons learned in operations. The various CAA legal tools discussed, developed and implemented through this conference will enhance CAA partner armies' effectiveness and interoperability.”
By focusing efforts and working on collaborative solutions to regional issues, the participants’ aim was to achieve a long-term decisive effect for a safer and more secure region where crime and natural disasters no longer wield the power to destabilize governments or threaten national and regional security.
“It’s very important in legal conferences like this that we are able to speak about the different aspects of operational law,” said Maj. Gen. Simeon G. Trombitas, the commanding general of U.S. Army South. “It’s very important because we know that in the world we face today, we’re not going to tackle any situation alone. We’ll work with allies and friendly nations especially as we meet those emerging threats in our region.”
Brazilian Col. Altair Jose Polsin, a Brazilian representative to the CAA Legal Conference, who also commanded a Brazilian army battalion during peacekeeping and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations in Haiti in 2010, spoke to the CAA members about the legal challenges involved in a major shift in operations and how his troops were able to meet that challenge in Haiti.
Polsin said the Legal Conference was a important opportunity for each country to provide valuable input and to be able to work toward a collaborative solution to the present-day challenges in the Western Hemisphere.
“The most important opportunity that we had during this conference was the chance to visit with the other armies and exchange experiences so that we have the chance to be on the same page,” said Polsin. “If we have the same legal regulations and we have the same ideas, we already know how each other operate. This makes it easier to focus on the mission objective.”
Like Polsin, Rodriguez feels the conference will go a long way toward establishing a common blueprint for implementing legal practices for military forces. However, Rodriguez also believes the work completed by the participants will serve to strengthen the reputation and professionalism of each participating army as well.
“As our armies seek to become better at interoperability in order to face common threats, whether natural or man-made, they need first and foremost to understand the legal framework and issues inherent in those threats,” said Rodriguez. “It is crucial for an army to maintain its credibility, transparency and legitimacy in any operation it undertakes; in fact, it is an essential task.”
The CAA provides a forum for regional chiefs of armies to strengthen integration and cooperation, study problems of mutual interest, establish, and contribute to hemispheric security, protect against all threats to peace, democracy and freedom and enhance interpersonal relationships.
For more information on the Conference of American Armies, click here.