LTC Mariano Eduardo Kreiman
The Conference of American Armies (CAA) is an international military organization, integrated and directed by the armies of the American Continent. It was created with the purpose of becoming a forum of debates for the interchange of experiences between the armies of the Continent. Its purpose is the analysis, the exchange of ideas and experiences related to defense issues of common interest, to increase collaboration and integration among the armies and to contribute to the defense and democratic development of the member countries.
The first Conference of American Armies occurred between August 8th and 12th, 1960, in Fort Amador, Panama. At that moment, a formal document of creation wasn’t structured, but its initial objective was clearly established: “The Convening of the Armies of America, to deal with common themes that will help achieve a synergy among the armies of the region and this way be able to fight in a combined and integral way possible threats against the Continent”.
During the first five years, the Conference followed the same focus and only agreements related to the themes addressed in each one of them were signed. It was during the Sixth Conference of American Armies, in 1965, with the participation of eighteen (18) countries of the Continent, that an agreement was signed that materialized the basis of the commitment of the member countries and the rules of operation of this organization, which was established as its “Minute of Creation”.
Currently, the CAA is integrated by twenty-three (23) member armies: Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, United States of America, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru, Dominican Republic, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay and Venezuela.
Two (2) observer armies, Belize and Suriname, as well as two (2) special observers, the Spanish Land Army and the National Border Service of the Republic of Panama, also participate. In addition, the CAA has two (2) observer military organizations, the Conference of Central American Armed Forces (CFAC) and the Inter-American Defense Board (IADB).
The Conference of American Armies develops in two-year cycles, in which an obligatory theme is established to be addressed in the different events such as Ad-Hoc Committees, Specialized Conferences and Exercises. These events, organized by the member armies, allow conclusions and recommendations to be reached through the active participation of the liaison officers and delegates from each armies and organizations. It is worth mentioning that the thematic axes, which contribute to the mandatory theme, are treated respecting the legal framework in force in each of the armies and organizations that integrate the CAA.
In the middle of the second year of each cycle, the preparatory meeting for the Commanders’ Conference takes place, where the conclusions and recommendations, drawn from the events that took place, are consolidated in order to later be transformed into agreements that will be presented for approval during the Commanders’ Conference.
The Conference of Commanders of the American Armies constitutes the main event of the cycle and takes place at the end of it, where besides the approved agreements, the ceremony of the transference of the headquarters to the Army that will have the responsibility of holding the presidency of the next cycle, and of constituting the Permanent Executive Secretariat of the CAA (SEPCEA) takes place.
The main themes addressed by the Conference over the last twenty years were the key issues of the interoperability of armies in military peace operations and disaster relief operations, and military leadership and support to civil authorities in joint and interagency environments.
In the Cycle XXXIV 2020-2021, led by the Argentine Army, for the first time a theme related to the training and professionalization of sergeants as leaders of different fractions and as auxiliaries of a team (Staff) or staff in the armies of the American Continent was addressed.
The conclusions reached during the events have allowed re-evaluating the role of the non-commissioned officers in each of the organizations, and have identified the need to reorganize the education and training programs so that better tools are offered, allowing their capabilities as leaders of smaller fractions to be increased, which will allow them to face the demands presented by the current conflicts and crises in the best possible way.
With the health emergency caused by covid-19, and the actions that Armies should take in support of National States to mitigate the effects of the pandemic, the CAA decided to include, as part of the mandatory theme, the discussion and exchange of lessons learned in the fight against covid-19 and its future implications for Armies, especially regarding leadership, participation in civil protection operations, and training in the pandemic environment. The main conclusions were the following:
– The importance of adequate joint and interagency military action, and the need to increase coordination and cooperation measures in the face of crisis.
– The conduct of civil protection operations requires a double capacity of resources and organization of armies.
– The revaluation of the Armed Forces as an instrument of the State for the resolution of health crises, mainly due to its organizational capacity, logistical means and territorial deployment.
During more than sixty years of the American Armies Conference history, many armies had the
honor of hosting this renowned international forum, contributing with the enrichment of its
patrimony and with the strengthening of the friendship and fraternity bonds among the armies.
The Army of the Federative Republic of Brazil returns to host, for the fourth time, the Conference of American Armies. Army General Marco Antônio Freire Gomes, Commander of the Army, presides the current Cycle XXXV (2022-2023).
The compulsory theme approved for this cycle is: “The Contribution of the Conference of American Armies in the process of transformation and preparation of the Army of the Future for the expansion of cooperation and integration in facing the challenges and threats that may affect the security and stability of the American Continent”.
In the scope of the activities foreseen for Cycle XXXV, between April 18th and 21st of 2022, took place in the city of Brasilia-DF, the opening ceremony, which counted with the presence of Commanders and representatives of twenty armies besides two CAA observer organizations. This important event marked the beginning of the Cycle led by the Brazilian Army, in which activities and objectives were established that will intensify the exchange and cooperation among the armies and organizations of the CAA.
In the schedule, foreseen for the present cycle, are detailed the armies that will have the responsibility of being the hosts in each one of the events, and also the objectives set for each one of them, which will allow the development of the cycle’s mandatory theme.
As a relevant aspect, a specialized study committee was created to analyze aspects that contribute to the development of the mandatory theme of the cycle XXXV: Interoperability, Education and Training, Intelligence, Science and Technology. These specialized study committees are led by officers from the armies of Chile, Colombia, Guatemala, and Brazil, under the direction of the Permanent Executive Deputy Secretary of the CAA.
Among the planned activities is Operation PARANA III, which will have two stages, one for planning during 2022 and another for execution on the ground during 2023. This exercise has among its objectives to prepare a Rescue Operation in case of natural disasters directed and coordinated by a national emergency system, looking to achieve interoperability of the Military Forces and integration with civilian emergency organizations.
Attentive to the common concerns of the member armies, the CAA has planned a specialized conference on cyber defense, which will take place this November in Buenos Aires, Argentina. This conference has among its objectives to increase interaction and exchange of experiences among CAA members with respect to cyber defense, and also to evaluate the dimensions of defense in cyberspace.
With this program of activities, foreseen for the XXXV cycle, the CAA demonstrates its as a forum for debate, exchange of experiences and lessons learned, allowing member armies and organizations to and member organizations to have valuable information to face the demands of the present and to project and project their gaze toward the challenges of the future. The United Mexican States Army will have the responsibility to carry out the next CAA cycle XXXVI (2024-2025). The mandatory theme and schedule of events will be approved at the Commanders Conference to be held in Brazil from November 6-10, 2023.
The situational challenges that are projected in an ever-more changing and interconnected world require a greater interaction among all multilateral agencies and forums, strengthening confidence and contributing to the increase of capabilities to face current demands.
In this sense, the Conference of American Armies has much in common to continue sharing products and lessons learned. Without a doubt, themes such as the management of actions in situations of natural disasters and humanitarian aid, the gender integration and cyber defense are of common interest, and can be valuable contributions between armies and organizations.
The crisis that was triggered by the pandemic around the world clearly demonstrated the legitimacy and importance of multilateral forums, not only as a means of exchanging information, but also, and above all, as a means of analyzing the problems faced on the Continent, and as a way of developing methods to achieve an effective and coordinated response among the countries of the Region.
The CAA is the most important multilateral forum for the Continent’s Armies and an excellent environment for the discussion of themes of common interest. The CAA is a military forum where defense-related themes are exclusively treated, and where each host Army is given autonomy to exercise its leadership with total freedom of action.
The democratic spirit of the CAA should continue to be reflected in the choice of the obligatory themes to be discussed in each cycle, trying to avoid dealing with those that are exclusive to defense policy, as well as those linked to other state agencies such as the security forces.
The Commanders’ Conference of American Armies is the event where personal knowledge and the exchange of views on issues of concern to the Continent’s armies are shared among the commanders.
The proof of this was the lessons learned and actions taken to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic exchanged among the armies.
The fluid communications network maintained by the CAA constitutes an essential tool to timely respond to any request from the member armies, and to deepen interoperability through the use of the means each of the armies has. Proof of this is the electronic communications exercise that takes place every year.
The success factor in dealing with crisis situations lies in establishing communication tools and coordination measures before they happen. In this sense, the CAA contributes significantly to strengthening mutual trust measures and military cooperation both bilaterally and multilaterally.
– CAA historical collection.
– CAA Web page (https://www.redcea.com/SitePages/Home.aspx).
The author is a Cavalry Lieutenant Colonel in the Argentine Army, Class of 1997, with a degree in Administration, Staff Officer in the Argentine Army and the Army of the People’s Republic of China, and a Master in Military Sciences. He holds the following qualifications: Military Parachutist and Special Armor Specialization.
As a non-commissioned officer, he served in Tank Cavalry Regiment 1, Parachute Cavalry Scouting Squadron 4, Light Cavalry Regiment 13, Tank Cavalry Regiment 12, and was also part of the Argentine Joint Battalion 1 in the Republic of Haiti. As a Chief Officer he served in the War College (student), the Joint War College (student), the Command and Staff School of the Army of the People’s Republic of China (student), the General Directorate of Material, the Tank Cavalry Regiment 1 as 2nd Regimental Chief and in the Conference of American Armies as Operations Officer. He is currently a Deputy in the Operations Section of the Permanent Executive Secretariat of the Conference of American Armies (SEPCEA).