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SOUTH 2008

Daily Report: Thursday: SOUTH 2008, Miami, Florida

October 9, 2008
By Henry Kenyon

The star-studded presentations continued here in Miami, with the second combatant command commander speaking in as many days. Adm. James Stavridis, USN, commander, U.S. Southern Command, gave the last address of SOUTH telling the luncheon audience that the Americas are not the United States' backyard or front porch. "It's a home that we share together," he said. The admiral went on to emphasize that the fundamental problem in the area is poverty, and that drugs and terrorism are symptoms of that problem. He explained that there are strong links between drugs and terrorism and that methods employed to smuggle drugs could easily transport weapons of mass destruction, especially emphasizing the danger and efficiency of semisubmersibles. The admiral said interagency and international partners must work together on the supply, demand and interdiction parts of the drug problem to eliminate the threats narcotics pose, especially because the enemy is smart and agile.

Earlier in the day attendees here already were seeing stars when Vice Adm. Nancy Brown, director, command, control, communications and computer systems, the Joint Staff, gave a keynote address about the Global Information Grid (GIG) 2.0. She continued Adm. Stavridis's thoughts on cooperation among partners by saying that GIG 2.0 should help eliminate stovepipe networks and enable better information sharing. Adm. Brown also emphasized the need for a standard accreditation policy and wants to do away with the Defense Messaging System.

Daily Report: Wednesday: SOUTH 2008, Miami, Florida

October 8, 2008
By Henry Kenyon

SOUTH 2008 carried a strong message during its first day of public sessions--everyone here has a drug problem. In fact, all of the Americas has a drug problem. Countering that problem is a matter of national and international importance and security, especially because the drug trade has finance links to terrorism. Speeches and presentations mainly focused on cocaine and its growth and effects. Lt. Gen. Glenn F. Spears, USAF, deputy commander, U.S. Southern Command, stated in his welcome address and featured speaker introduction that, "The scourge of illegal drug trafficking...unfortunately is alive and flourishing in the Americas today."

Gen. Gene Renaurt, USAF, commander, U.S. Northern Command, gave the plenary address and stated, "This isn't like somebody else's people we are talking about. These are our own children, our own coworkers, our own families." The general went on to say that drug traffickers are violent, organized and dangerous, and that agencies and countries must work together to combat the threats they pose.

The first panel of the day continued Gen. Renaurt's themes, focusing on the topic "Narco-Trafficking: What is the Nexus with the War on Terrorism?" Panelists spoke of the connections between drug money and terror financing and ways that terrorists could use drug and human traffickers' tactics to smuggle weapons and people into the United States. Though some connections are loose, these threats are ones the United States and its partners need to be aware of and prevent.

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