Bogota, Colombia —
The world is more connected now than it has ever been. With this new level of connection also comes a new set of challenges. How do you determine those challenges and once identified, how do you plan for them? The Conference of the American Armies, or CAA, met in Bogota, Colombia, Sept. 19-23 to deal with that question.
Formed in 1960, the CAA is made up of members from 20 different North and South American armies who collectively determine the course of the organization as well as observers from other armies and international military organizations.
The conference operates on a two-year cycle. The U.S. Army is the host army for the 2016-2017 cycle, the first time since 1996 that the U.S. has held the position.
Maj. Gen. K.K. Chinn, commanding general of U.S. Army South, also serves as the secretary general and speaks on behalf of the U.S. Army in this capacity. Above all other priorities the conference has, partnership is the most important.
“Throughout our history, the Conference of the American Armies as an international military organization considered as its main goal the promotion of integration of American Armies,” Chinn said during the conference.
The conference in Bogota was the second in the current cycle which focuses on identifying specific challenges and determining courses of action all members must agree to.
“The work that we do here together at the specialized conferences of the cycle will contribute to the scenario and the training objectives of the exercise we will conduct in Chile at the end of the cycle,” Chinn said.
In addition to Chinn, Lt. Gen. Joseph Anderson, U.S. Army deputy chief of staff for operations, also attended the event.
“After recently traveling to various parts of the world where the Army operates, I can tell you that the challenges we all face are very, very similar. These challenges are trans-national, multi-functional, and multi-domain challenges,” Anderson said.
Anderson understands having to be deliberate about where resources are allocated, and he assumed the other members of the CAA have the same problems.
“We want to understand the challenges of our South American partner nations so we can determine where we can provide assistance that is in line with their perspective nation’s priorities,” Anderson added.
Colombia recently entered into a peace accord with the Revolutionary Armed Force of Colombia, commonly referred to as the FARC.
Colombian National army commander Gen. Alberto Jose Mejia also attended the conference.
“Colombia feels that it is a country that cannot make progress in defeating its threats without being hand in hand with the partners that we have sitting here today,” Mejia said in reference to the peace negotiations.
Mejia transferred authority of the CAA to the U.S. last February and there are several more events remaining for the nations to come together and build partnerships and work toward their collective goals. The next conference takes place in November in the Dominican Republic, the country scheduled to assume CAA host responsibilities for the 2017-2018 cycle.