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.

The only non-uniformed speaker of the day was Sergio Jaramillo Caro, the Colombian vice minister of defense. Caro's theme for his presentation was the link between counternarcotics and counterinsurgency and how to best combat the two problems and in what order. He told the audience of his country's achievements in combating the FARC and its narcotics activities. He shared that the successes and failures of Colombia in its ongoing battle against cocaine could apply to efforts in Afghanistan to combat the Taliban and opium. A key message he imparted was the need for leaders to demonstrate to the populace that the government is in control. Once basic security is established, other parts of the counternarcotics and counterinsurgency response are easier. This perception of accomplishing goals against the enemy is the new way to define winning the war. Another idea put forth by Caro is that "counter" is the wrong word to use in the fight against drugs and terrorists, because countries should not be only reactive, but should move toward a predetermined goal. 

Rounding out day two were panels titled "Narco-Trafficking Technologies/Innovations: How Do We Counter the Emerging Threats to National Security?" and "How Do We Promote Public-Private Partnerships to Win the Counter Narco-Trafficking Fight?" Technologies such as biometrics and encryption were discussed in the first panel. The need for the private sector to be involved in the fight against drugs and what part companies are playing already were the focus of the second.

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