MIAMI (March 11, 2021) -- Senior military leaders from the Department of Defense, Canada, France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom held strategic level discussions to explore the future of the Western Hemisphere’s security through a trans-Atlantic lens.
U.S. Southern Command hosted the Allies Conference 2021 - Optimizing for Uncertainty, a half-day, in-person and virtual session that brought together U.S. and NATO leaders and key officials representing the strategic headquarters of participating allied nations.
The conference focused on highlighting the importance of the Alliance and partnerships, aligning views and understanding of the security environment in the Western Hemisphere, and developing approaches to respond to emerging threats. The leaders discussed global threats to hemisphere, dealing with the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, the threat of transnational criminal organizations, and competing with China and other authoritarian states jockeying for influence in the region.
“The pandemic has accelerated every bit of instability [in Latin America and the Caribbean]. Most of the countries in this region have negative GDP and simultaneously we see those geo-strategic rivalries playing out particularly with respect to China,” said Adm. Craig Faller, commander of SOUTHCOM. “In this hemisphere, we see their insidious rise, just as we see them around the world, and they’re looking to ensure China’s economic dominance through every possible means.”
Participating senior U.S. defense leaders included Faller; the commander of U.S. European Command, Gen. Tod Wolters; the commander of U.S. Northern Command, Gen. Glen VanHerck; and the commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, Gen. Richard Clarke.
Allied leaders included United Kingdom Vice Chief of Defence Staff, Adm. Sir Tim Fraser; the commander of Canada's Joint Operations Command, Lt. Gen. Christopher Coates; the commander of the French Armed Forces in the Caribbean, Vice Adm. Jean Hausermann; and the Netherlands Vice Chief of Defense, Vice Admiral Bud Boots.
The conference included three sessions that focused on allied views and understanding of the emergent security environment, dialogue to increase understanding of ally nation defense and security approaches for the Western Hemisphere out to 2025, and identifying ways to bring coherence to future alliance efforts.
“[Our] interim guidance – National Security Guidance -- and the letter from our Secretary of Defense, really states the need to pull together and have the sum of what we do make [things] greater for the good of the hemisphere, and really, the globe,” said Faller.
“Throughout the last two years as I’ve travelled in the region… [I’ve seen] the need for us to work together and leverage our historical ties.”
NATO members France, the UK, and the Netherlands have national interests stretching beyond Western Europe as a function of their sovereign overseas territories, including those found in Latin America and the Caribbean.