URUGUAY -- Navy Admiral Kurt W. Tidd, commander of U.S. Southern Command, met with military and security leaders from 10 nations during the South America Defense Conference in Uruguay. Discussions focussed on security cooperation for peacekeeping support, advancement of human rights, development of NCO Corps and
effective integration of women in the military.
The conference is one of three regional security conferences sponsored by SOUTHCOM each year to provide forums for dialogue and exchanges among defense and security leaders from the Caribbean, Central America and South America.
"I’d like to give a warm welcome to all the defense and security chiefs from South America and to our partners from regional organizations, the US government, and Canada. I’m excited to join everyone at my first South
American Defense Conference.
General Pintos, thank you and your team for all your hard work leading up to this conference and for the spirit of welcome you’ve shown all our nations.
I’ll keep my remarks brief, as we have a lot of interesting discussion ahead of us.
I would like to share some thoughts on our conference theme—“the changing role of the military in the region.”
Why is that role changing? Well, to start with, I think we’d all agree that the global security environment is the most complex, volatile, and unpredictable in at least the last half-century – certainly longer than any of us have been on active service. We’re no longer simply dealing with conventional conflicts that displace millions of people and destabilize entire regions—we’re also facing complex, networked threats like transregional crime and violent extremism that transcend borders and boundaries. Our panel later this afternoon will address that very topic. These challenges don’t just blur the lines between domestic security and defense—they transcend geographic borders, hemispheres and domains. They require more than just multinational cooperation…they require a broader
understanding of our complex global environment and demand adaptive and creative responses by re-conceptualized security forces.
In effect; we must develop a whole new way of thinking and working together.
And each of our countries, in different ways, is showing the world what the future holds for ensuring our collective security. Our militaries are ‘breaking new ground’ when it comes to how we accomplish our assigned roles
We are charting a bold new course when it comes to responsible peacekeeping, military advocacy for the foundational importance of human rights, and effective gender integration. I will have more to say about these in a moment.
We are demonstrating an impressive commitment to improving security both within and beyond our borders, serving as key contributors in numerous united nations’ and other multinational missions around the world.
We are sharing expertise with each other, providing leadership across borders and hemispheres to address shared challenges like illicit trafficking, humanitarian crisis, and maritime security.
We each have different strengths and unique experiences, and we can learn a lot from one another. I’m looking forward to our candid discussions during the panels and throughout the conference.
I challenge all of us to be creative and bold in our thinking…especially when it comes to what comes next for our forces.
To help frame subsequent discussions during this conference, I’d like to share some thoughts about how we – as an organization and as military leaders from across our region – adapt and evolve, how we develop new skills, to address new and emerging security challenges. We have a responsibility to think about what those skills are, and how to build a network of defense professionals who are ready for whatever does comes next. SOUTHDEC gives us an opportunity to strengthen that network.
To help frame my thinking, I refer to military imperatives; that is, those activities and initiatives that help ensure we’ve assembled the best possible team to effectively operate in today’s complex global environment. These
imperatives are about creating the best possible forces for our future, on developing agile, capable militaries able to cope with modern security challenges.
These imperatives focus on force attributes that are relevant and resonate across our region. I call these “imperatives,” because as we have seen, militaries that fail to implement them risk finding themselves at a distinct competitive disadvantage in the modern security arena. And I would note that all of our militaries have already internalized and applied these imperatives.
We’ve all gone about it in slightly different ways, so I hope during our panel discussions we will share insights and lessons learned.
So what are some of these military imperatives? While not an all-inclusive list, I would offer the following: first, we must commit to a fundamental respect for human rights in the planning and execution of our operations. It is key to
establishing domestic legitimacy, and thus governmental support for our operations and activities.
As many of your militaries have proven, it is particularly critical to conducting effective peace keeping operations. We’re seeing a growing demand for more complex peace operations, which demand a robust set of capabilities and
This includes strong military and civilian leadership teams with the right skills and political legitimacy to carry out their mandate in a dynamic and ever-changing security environment.
I hope during our first panel discussion our panel members will comment on how they have applied this imperative to the successful leadership roles they have played in recent peace keeping operations.
The second imperative that I would like to highlight is that to develop agile and effective teams, we must capitalize on the full range of talents and skills possessed by our populations. There are two elements to this imperative that
bear further examination.
The first is the emphasis we place on developing a skilled, professional non-commissioned officer corps -- the backbone of any modern fighting force.
I would like to recognize the important leadership role played by our nations’ senior enlisted leaders, and want to introduce Command Sergeant Major Bill Zaiser, whom many of you have already met, who is with us today.
The second element, of this second imperative (and I hope you’ve been paying attention, because there will be a test at the end of the conference…) the second element is that if we are going to field the most capable security teams, we must harness the full potential of the qualified and capable women who play an increasingly important role in our armed forces.
We have an excellent panel lined up to discuss this tomorrow. With us are Rear Admiral Martha Herb, and Master Chief Petty Officer Diane Tortora, two of those exceptionally well qualified and capable women who are playing important roles as we deal with increasingly complex security challenges. I hope you will take time during the conference to meet them and learn of their experiences.
So we clearly have a lot to discuss! Let me just close by saying that I would like to make three commitments to all of you on behalf of the USSOUTHCOM team.
First, we are committed to being an equal and trusted partner, and we hope you will do the same. We understand that relationships can’t be taken for granted…and I promise you that we will work every day to earn, and keep, your
Second, we’re committed to being the best possible partner to all of you. In the course of our conversations, if I don’t end every conversation with, “how can USSOUTHCOM help?” I’ve completely missed the mark, and I expect
you to call me on it!
And finally, we’re committed to building on the strong friendships we are so fortunate to share…friendships that are based on shared history, shared values, and shared interests. We are, more than ever, bound together by common
hopes and a shared vision of a better future for our citizens. To take a page from José Gervasio Artigas, “los pueblos de américa están íntimamente unidos por vínculos de naturaleza e intereses recíprocos”. Our countries
are intimately united, by both natural connections and shared interests.
This is as true today as it was more than 200 years ago— and as it surely will be 200 years from now.
Thanks again for joining us—manos a la obra -- let’s get to work!"