SPEECH | Dec. 6, 2017

Adm. Tidd Prepared Remarks: 2017 Caribbean Nations Security Conference (CANSEC)

Opening Remarks at Caribbean Nations Security Conference

Navy Adm. Kurt W. Tidd, Commander of U.S. Southern Command

December 6, 2017  | Georgetown, Guyana

Good morning... Buenos Dias... Bonjour ... Welcome to the 19th year of CANSEC. We are joined today by representatives from CARICOM, CDEMA, the RSS, the IADB, Mexico, Canada, and Europe. Thank you all for taking time out of your busy holiday schedules to join us.

Before I get too far, l'd also like to thank general west and the Guyana defense force for their gracious hospitality. Our teams have worked long hours behind the scenes to make this the best CANSEC yet. Let's give them a round of applause!

Brigadier General West, thank you for your eloquent remarks. You perfectly captured the importance of this conference. Prime Minister Nagamootoo, we are honored that you could join us today. Your presence is a testament to Guyana's commitment to its Caribbean neighbors, and we look forward to hearing from you.

I’ll keep my comments brief, as we are all looking forward to hearing from you.

For those of you who attended last year's CANSEC, you'll recognize a familiar theme: the idea of networks. In one way or another, our world is driven by networks.

They are a defining characteristic of our daily lives. We rely on them. We're part of them. And we're threatened by them. The evolution of networks — in all their forms —is reflective of the profound change happening all around us.

  • Everywhere we look, we see volatility, uncertainty, and interconnectedness of challenges.
  • Regional and global risks are materializing in new and unexpected ways.
  • We see both traditional and non-traditional threats co-existing and reinforcing one another.
  • We see state and non-state actors competing for influence and challenging democratic values.
  • And we see the rising frequency of extreme weather events and their far-reaching impacts on our people and economies.

Yet at the same time, another change has been underway. Our security cooperation has evolved and grown beyond individual and the bilateral. Beyond even the sub-regional.

Our security cooperation is now a system — a network — that binds together the nations of the Western Hemisphere; multilateral organizations like CARICOM, the RSS, the IADB, and CDEMA; and our partners from across the Atlantic, including the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and France.

This network was born of sustained engagements that emphasize collective action and cooperative solutions. It is built upon the foundation of information sharing. It is inclusive and principled, binding together like-minded nations who share common values and a commitment to work together.

Throughout the years, those values and shared commitment have been the common thread linking all of our initiatives, programs, training, exercises, and operations.

The collective investments we have made are not just investments in our shared security and prosperity....they are investments in one another. They are investments in the capacities of our civilian, military, and interagency institutions. Investments in our interoperability in areas like disaster response and countering threat networks....and investments in improved coordination at the strategic, operational, and tactical levels.

The payoff of these investments is stronger partnerships, deeper trust, and increased unity of effort. Our hemisphere is more secure, and our forces more capable, because of them. We know more, share more, and do more, because of close, regular engagement.

We need to look no farther than the recent hurricane season to see evidence of this payoff. It took time and effort... Years of working together to strengthen our collective capacities ... Exercising our forces and organizations together against real-world, complex emergencies. And when we were tested by Irma and Maria, our forces rose to the challenge as one network, unified in action and united in purpose.

The regional response effort, led by important organizations like CDEMA, CARICOM, and the RSS, was networked collaboration at its finest....rapidly assessing the situation, connecting needs with capabilities, and sharing information with the broadest group of stakeholders.

While the devastation wrought by these two hurricanes was unprecedented, so was the seamless collaboration displayed by our nations. As we begin to recover and rebuild, I am confident that this network will continue to serve us well.

This network is enduring — as is our commitment to one another … a commitment the United States has shared since 1954, the year of our first disaster response in the Caribbean. And in the more than 60 years since, this commitment has only grown deeper, and our network, stronger. The question before us now is the next step in this network's evolution ...

  • How to expand it, sustain it, and connect it to other networks in new and innovative ways.
  • How to improve sharing agreements to match the challenges we face...
  • How to increase collaboration across countries, areas of expertise, and new stakeholders ....
  • How to maximize existing activities and leverage multinational collaboration platforms to tie us ever closer together ...
  • How to incorporate the expertise and unique skill sets of civil society and the private sector...
  • How to foster even greater cooperation and inclusive integration, not just within the Caribbean, but transregionally.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on these ideas, especially as it relates to addressing the most pressing security challenges facing us today. The untapped potential of this network is tremendous. Greater integration and linkages can have all sorts of cross-cutting effects.

By aligning our security efforts with the work being done by our civilian agencies and NGOs, we not only improve community resiliency and extend governance where it's needed most, we help deny criminal networks sanctuary and freedom of movement. By integrating and sequencing our respective operations and activities, we can sustain pressure against illicit networks... And aggregate the impact of individual mitigation and preparedness efforts.

And by doing all this, together, as one network, we can also build another network... An interconnected network of security, prosperity, and resiliency that extends throughout the Americas.

Once again, thank you all for being part of CANSEC. Now, let's get to work!