NEWS | Oct. 8, 2021

Border conference promotes security for neighboring countries in South America

By Donald Sparks

The Brazilian Army hosted senior military leaders from U.S. Army South, the armies of Colombia, Ecuador and Peru, and the Panamanian SENAFRONT at the 2nd Multilateral Border Conference in Manaus, Amazonas state, held Sept. 27-29. The focus of the conference was to improve cooperation between participants, and to develop solutions for regional border problems.

The conference allowed the sharing of good practices and lessons learned in dealing with issues related to border protection, observing the individualities of each country's defense policies and identifying opportunities for exchanges that improve understanding of challenges and threats of the border region.

“The conference allowed leaders of participating armies to strengthen the linkages of cooperation and friendship at the senior leader level, and exchange best practices and lessons learned between participating armies,” said Lt. Col. Daniel Lacaria, Theater Security Cooperation planner, Army South. “It also improved participants’ mutual understanding of each other’s strengths and principle threats in border regions, in order to strengthen collaboration in confronting transnational threats.”

Gen.Paulo Sérgio, Brazilian Army commander, welcomed the delegation comprised of more 15 general officers, including Maj. Gen. William Thigpen, Army South commanding general, and shared best practices and lessons learned in confronting threats in border regions. Sérgio said the armies to work together to pursue common solutions for common problems and seek opportunities for training exchanges between the participating nations.

This was the second time Army South has participated in the border conference, with the last event being held in Colombia in 2019.

Serving as the Army South Deputy Commanding General-Interoperability, Colombian Army Brig. Gen. Hernando Garzón viewed the conference as an important event for Army South to understand the regional relationships between Brazil and other partner nations.

“Brazil, given its geographic size, borders ten South American countries,” said Garzón, who is assigned to Army South from the Colombian Army. “Undoubtedly, the understanding of the operational environment, begins with understanding what happens in South America.”

The delegation received an operational briefing on the capabilities and challenges of Brazil’s Amazon Military Command and given an aerial overview of the operating environment of the Amazon region.

During the conference, participants agreed the protection of the Amazon is a vital objective and interest for Brazil, Colombia and other Amazonian states, however, its geography and small population constitutes a major challenge.

Recognizing the dense topography in the border areas makes it harder to detect security issues such as transnational threats, narcotrafficking, illegal mining, illegal immigration and other transnational crime.

Garzón mentioned the control of the Colombian-Brazilian border is of vital importance for the two nations and for the Amazon, an ecosystem of global importance.

“The cooperation between our two countries goes back a long time, but it was strengthened between the two armies with this conference,” he said.

At the conclusion of the conference, all of the leaders agreed to continue strengthening cross-border cooperation and coordination with Brazilian forces.

“Strengthening cooperation and building trust measures is a key factor in achieving hemispheric security objectives; consequently, the security of the Amazon border constitutes a challenge and a common objective for all neighboring states,” Garzón said.  “The attendees shared with frankness, the existing problems, as well as the successful measures implemented in each country.”