JBSA-FORT SAM HOUSTON –
The Conference of American Armies closed the first year of its 30th cycle with the gathering of chiefs of armies from the Caribbean, Central, North and South American countries in a military ceremony hosted by the Mexican army at the Campo Militar #1 in Mexico City Dec. 13.
The CAA, comprised of 20 member armies, five observer armies and two international military organizations from the Caribbean, Central, North and South American countries conducted four plenary sessions, dozens of bilateral meetings and approved the recommendations from several specialized conferences and exercises that took place in the last 12 months.
"The army chiefs discussed findings and approved recommendations from the communications exercise, legal, science and technology, emerging threats and risk situations and disaster relief operations specialized conferences and peacekeeping operations exercise that took place in different countries over the last several months," said Col. James K. Rose, U.S. Army South's security cooperation division chief.
The CAA is a forum for chiefs of armies to come together and discuss issues of mutual interest in order to contribute to hemispheric security, protect against threats and enhance interpersonal relationships.
The army chiefs normally meet every two years, but in its last meeting, in October 2011 in Lima Peru, the members decided to hold an Extraordinary Commanders' Meeting this year here Dec. 10-13.
The Mexican army led and hosted the army chiefs, commanders, and representatives from Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, United States, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru, Dominican Republic, Suriname, Uruguay, and the Inter-American Defense Board.
The Mexican army will also host the regular Commanders Conference here in 2013.
ARSOUTH commanding general Maj. Gen. Frederick S. Rudesheim attended the gathering for the first time as a commander.
He also led the U.S. delegation at the Extraordinary Commanders' Meeting on behalf of Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Raymond T. Odierno.
"This meeting of regional senior army leaders was extremely beneficial," said Rudesheim.
The general previously served on the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff as the division chief for Central, South America and the Caribbean and also as the deputy director for Political Military Affairs (Western Hemisphere) J5, before assuming command of U.S. Army South in September.
Rudesheim knows the region well; he was born and raised in Panama by American parents and speaks Spanish fluently, and he's dealt with many of the regional issues in his previous positions on the Joint Staff.
"One of the most beneficial aspects of this Extraordinary Commanders' Meeting was having the opportunity to sit down and have one-on-one discussions with army chiefs and senior leaders," Rudesheim said.
Rudesheim, along with Tatiana C. Gfoeller, the CSA's senior political advisor and a former U.S. Ambassador, met with senior army leaders and chiefs from Argentina, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Peru and Trinidad and Tobago.
Rudesheim invited Ambassador Gfoeller to attend to observe and assist as a foreign policy advisor.
"The Mexican army, as the host nation, did an absolutely phenomenal job in planning, leading and executing this historic commanders' meeting," Rudesheim said.
"I was impressed with their leadership, planning and execution of the entire week of events."