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NEWS | Dec. 17, 2018

U.S. Army South hosts first Inter-American Legal Forum in US

By Sgt. Ashley Dotson U.S. Army South Public Affairs

The U.S. Army South Office of the Staff Judge Advocate hosted the 6th annual Inter-American Legal Forum Dec. 11-13 at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston. The forum is a multilateral international cooperation engagement from more than 15 countries. 

“The purpose of this Inter-American forum is to gather the main countries of America in an academic instance in order to discuss the main topics that are common to the armed forces of our continent in order to find solutions-efficient solutions to problems that we all suffer,” said Rear Admiral Christian Araya, with the Chilean Navy. “In this opportunity we discussed a phenomenon of the armed criminal organizations and we have obtained an excellent encounter of ideas about this issue.”

He said one of the important aspects of this forum is the personal knowledge among the participants from the different armed forces which will facilitate future the agreements and the relationships among the countries.

This forum has evolved into a multilateral regional engagement with the participation of senior military attorneys, senior civilian attorneys from the ministries of defense and representatives of the military justice systems from Western Hemisphere nations. 

It is a venue where recommended courses of action are discussed for each significant issue presented.  This annual event is aimed at enhancing interactions between senior military legal personnel and promotes discussions of developments in military justice and operational law.

This year's forum topic was the "Rule of Law and Operational Efficiency: Necessary Legal Innovations to Confront Illegal/Transnational Armed Groups/Organizations."

“I think this forum was excellent because this was the result of joint work between U.S. Army South and the Technical Secretary,” said Col. Juan Michelsen, a Chilean Army military justice officer. “We all put in an effort and made all of our efforts available. We feel satisfaction that we have achieved this through very deep debates with a lot of trust ambitions that allowed us to enrich the answers that we are going to give our commands.”

Michelsen said he believes the most important lesson is that they were able to discuss problems that could directly affect some of the participating countries. Sharing their experiences and how they reacted to these phenomenons constitutes an invaluable knowledge. This will allow others to see those situations and to plan potential actions to counteract in a more efficient way.

“I think it was good to get us face to face, so we can have a personal connection,” said Staff Sgt. Erica Marrow, U.S. Army South Operational Law NCO. “It helps us to better understand the person’s ideas and to better understand the person when we are working with our partnered nations who aren’t located here.”

Members of the U.S. Army South Office of the Staff Judge Advocate team agreed that they enjoyed the opportunity to host the first Inter-American Legal Forum and hope to host a future forum as well.