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News | Feb. 24, 2023

SOUTHCOM Hosts Submarine Force's Submarine Conference of the Americas

By Lt.j.g Michaela White, Submarine Group TWO Public Affairs

SCOTA was attended by Western Hemisphere (WHEM) undersea leadership from allied and partner submarine-operating nations to showcase and address national undersea domain capabilities, the challenges of interoperability, and undersea collaboration against strategic competitors in the WHEM. 
Vice Adm. William Houston, commander, Submarine Forces, kicked off the multinational conference with a welcome remark to attendees from Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and the U.S. 
“Our relationships with our allies and partners in the Western Hemisphere are critical to safe maritime operations,” said Houston. “The work we initiate here will enhance operational safety for our respective nations as we reinforce our friendships and partnerships.”

Following Vice Adm. Houston’s introduction, U.S. Army Gen. Laura Richardson, commander, U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), thanked participants for their time and encouraged them to take advantage of the opportunities to collaborate. 

“I am committed to strengthening SOUTHCOM’s security cooperation with our neighbors and ensuring that the United States remains the partner of choice in the Western Hemisphere,” said Richardson. “The opportunity that we have today to engage with one another is indispensable and I encourage each of you to take this time to strengthen your relationships. I hope that the cooperation between our nations continues to prosper into the future”. 
Vice Adm. Edgar Luiz Siqueira Barbosa, commander, Brazilian navy Fleet Forces, echoed Richardson's sentiment on using the conference to bolster relationships and strengthen understanding. 

"The conference gives us the opportunity to understand each other’s perspective, identify common threats and learn how to operate together," said Edgar Luiz Siqueira Barbosa. "In an ever-growing complex world, it is certainly better to increase interoperability capabilities before it becomes urgent. ​The Brazilian navy gives high priority to the ongoing modernization of our 108-year-old submarine force, to secure sovereignty, as well as to bolster deterrence. It is our commitment, as a nation, to ensure regional stability and security of commercial flows. Cooperation with like-minded nations, as this initiative fosters, will be our leverage to face modern challenges.”

SCOTA also had many U.S. Navy subject matter experts who traveled across the world to offer their perspectives on water space allocation and management, global threats in the undersea theatre, Navy security and lessons in hemispheric security. The speakers included Rear Adm. Steve Mack, commander, Submarines NATO; Vice Adm. (Ret.) Bill Merz, former Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Operations, Plans, and Strategy and the Hon. James Story, ambassador to Venezuela. 

Rear Adm. Jim Aiken, commander, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command, spoke on advancing undersea engagements in the Sothern Hemisphere.  

“Understanding what each of our navies’ strengths and capabilities are at a deep level will ensure that we can better integrate,” said Aiken. “We will continue to advance our respective navies’ interoperability, freedom of action and security cooperation in order to gain mutual benefit. Integration into real world operations and a focus on operational safety is imperative to the maritime security of the Western Hemisphere.” 

Each participating nation had the opportunity to provide a national brief on their respective Submarine Force as an opportunity to showcase their capabilities and potential opportunities for collaboration.   

The Submarine Force executes the Department of the Navy’s mission in and from the undersea domain. In addition to lending added capacity to naval forces, the Submarine Force, in particular, is expected to leverage those special advantages that come with undersea concealment to permit operational, deterrent and combat effects that the Navy and the nation could not otherwise achieve. 
The Submarine Force and supporting organizations constitute the primary undersea arm of the Navy. Submarines and their crews remain the tip of the undersea spear.