SOUTHCOM and Dominican Republic Ministry of Defense sponsor Regional Conference on Caribbean Security

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic — The Dominican Minister of Defense, Admiral Sigfrido Pared Perez and General John F. Kelly, Commander of the U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) announced during a press conference that both countries will host the 2014 Caribbean Nations Security Conference (CANSEC) on Jan. 28-30 in the Hilton Santo Domingo.

The conference will discuss the progress of ongoing efforts to bolster the region’s security and information-sharing capabilities. The theme for this year’s conference is “Caribbean security support to CBSI: Sustaining the capacity to counter transnational organized crime.” CBSI, short for Caribbean Basin Security Initiative, was developed by U.S. and Caribbean leaders to substantially reduce illicit trafficking, increase public safety and security, and promote social justice by integrating approaches that address those priority areas.

This year’s CANSEC will host defense, law enforcement and civilian leaders representing 21 countries including: Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, the Bahamas, Belize, Colombia, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, as well as Trinidad and Tobago. Regional representatives from Canada, France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom were also invited.

The U.S. and The Dominican Republic enjoy a longstanding history of military and humanitarian collaboration. The Beyond the Horizons (BTH) program scheduled for March 15 in the Southwest province of Barahona exemplifies the strong partnership between both nations. BTH is a joint Dominican/U.S. military Humanitarian and Civic Assistance program where U.S. and Dominican medical and engineering personnel build and renovate infrastructure as well as provide free medical and dental assistance in vulnerable and impoverished communities since 2006. This year’s plan includes the construction of three medical clinics and two schools with the additional participation of personnel from four countries: Chile, Canada, Colombia, and Brazil.

The U.S. delegation attending the conference also includes senior representatives and subject matter experts from the U.S. State Dept., Joint Interagency Task Force-South, the Inter-American Defense Board, and the Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies. Other guests included the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS) and the Canadian Joint Operations Command.

Since 2010, the U.S. has committed more than $263 million to support the initiative. Under the CBSI, SOUTHCOM assistance to the region it has donated intercept boats, communication packages, spare parts and tools, as well as provided training to Caribbean coast guard, naval and other maritime patrol forces. Currently, the command staffs and funds a Technical Assistance Field Team to assist Caribbean nations with maintenance, logistics and procurement systems essential to sustaining long-term readiness of maritime patrol forces and service life of critical maritime patrol resources.