West Hemisphere Defense: Where is the Beef?


2012-10-13 recently, the Pentagon released its guidance with regard to building Western Hemisphere defense in the period ahead.The document highlights the strategic need to evolve partnerships in more effective directions and across the board in delivering security in challenging times.

The document highlights the need for evolving the collaborative approach, but lacks examples or case studies of what DOD has in mind.

Western Hemisphere Policy Approach

In addition, the Super Tucano case highlights the limits of a two way street in cooperation as well.

What we need are examples and case studies of how such innovation will emerge and develop, notably with envisaged defense cuts.

And the cuts to USCG funding and capabilities is a big issue as well.

Means are crucial to shape the ends of defense and security partnerships.

And shaping approaches such as the 12th USAF working with Columbia are good examples of ways ahead.

And the absence of means is already taking its bite.

According to Inside Defense:

InsideDefense.com reported in March that U.S. Southern Command and its partners lack the maritime assets needed to stop two-thirds of the traffickers they track. The command’s top general said on March 7 that to achieve its mission of helping to halt transnational organized crime, he could use more intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets, as well as more maritime capability that can be used to intercept illicit traffickers traveling through Caribbean and eastern Pacific waters.

SOUTHCOM’s commander Gen. Douglas Fraser said ISR requirements top his integrated priority list. “I’m a combatant commander, I could always use more ISR,” he said.


“We intercept about 33 percent of what we know is out there, and that’s just a limitation on the number of assets,” Fraser said during a breakfast with reporters today. He noted more traffickers are getting through.

SOUTHCOM gets information on when a vessel leaves a particular port and what specific vessels to look for, he said. The command has maritime patrol aircraft that can find and follow these ships, but it’s a struggle to have vessels available and positioned correctly to intercept the boats. SOUTHCOM and its partners also struggle with catching up with aircraft when they land because there are a number of different airfields in each country, and the traffickers are able to quickly unload their wares in about 15 minutes.

“You have to be very, very capable and have assets in the right place, right time to counter that,” he said.

Specifically, SOUTHCOM needs ISR with a fully penetrating capability to spot forces hidden in dense jungle canopies, such as in Colombia and Peru, he noted.

“This is really an R&D effort right now, it’s an effort that we really haven’t gotten to a what I would say a capable foliage penetrating capability yet fielded,” he said, noting that vessels that can be fully submerged under water are being built in the jungles of South America.