COZUMEL, Mexico –
The U.S. military is looking for ways to enhance cooperation with its Mexican and Central American partners to address the security challenges that threaten the stability in the region, the commander of North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command said here today.
The issues of concern in Central America include migration and countering transnational organized crime, Air Force Gen. Lori J. Robinson said in closing remarks at the two-day Central America Security Conference.
"At U.S. Northern Command, we recognize that transnational organized crime does pose a challenge to stability of all the countries in the region," she said, adding that her command is working closely with Mexico and U.S. Southern Command to counter the challenges.
The conference, co-hosted by the United States and Mexico, provided a forum for Central American, Mexican and U.S. officials to examine ways to boost cooperation to address the evolving, multidomain threats.
'Collective Willingness' to Address Challenges
Robinson urged the countries represented at the conference to continue to collaborate and pursue the ideas that emerged from this year's talks.
"I appreciated hearing a collective willingness to work together for stronger partnerships in the region," she told the forum, saying she looks forward to working with the partners to advance efforts for security.
Robinson thanked Mexico for its role in hosting the 12th iteration of the conference, which marked the first time the session was held outside Central America. Next year's forum is slated to take place in El Salvador.
The conference brought together chiefs of defense and ministers of defense from Central America, plus observers from Canada, Chile, Colombia, the Dominican Republic and Great Britain. Panama and Costa Rica sent public security representatives.
Navy Adm. Kurt W. Tidd, the Southcom commander, addressed the forum yesterday. He highlighted the need for a unified approach in confronting the threats in Central America that are "adaptive and dynamic, constantly reacting."
Transnational Organized Crime is 'Common Enemy'
According to the Mexican military hosts, the participants reached consensus on greater integration to make their regional security structures more efficient. A joint news release from Mexico's National Defense and Navy secretariats said the countries stressed that transnational crime threatens all nations in the region.
"Participant countries remarked that our common enemy is transnational organized crime, which respects no border and it is towards this objective that all our efforts must be focused, with an absolute respect of human rights," the news release said.
After the conference, the participating countries hold multilateral and bilateral discussions to define specific steps to achieve the objectives defined in the conference, Southcom spokesman Jose Ruiz said.
(Follow Lisa Ferdinando on Twitter: @FerdinandoDoD)