Security Cooperation with Latin America

By Connell, Curt | DISAM Journal, Fall 2005 | Go to article overview

Security Cooperation with Latin America


Connell, Curt, DISAM Journal


The United States Air Force (USAF) Security Cooperation activities with Latin America are building strong relationships with our neighbors and coalition partners to secure the hemisphere and facilitate power projection. The United States takes great interest in Latin America because of geographic proximity, economic ties, and our shared democratic ideals. Without effective security cooperation, central and southern nations could lose sovereignty to narcotics trafficking, radical terrorists affiliated with Hamas and al Qaeda, and illegitimate states that join forces to present a serious threat to peace and stability. Therefore, bilateral and regional programs in Latin America are of particular importance.

Transformation efforts by the Deputy Undersecretary of the Air Force, International Affairs (SAF/ IA), focus on building, sustaining, and expanding relationships as key enablers to our expeditionary air and space force and mutual security interests. Strong relationships are founded by working with our partners to determine requirements and develop capabilities to achieve internal host nation goals as well as facilitate coalition integration. There are a number of bilateral and regional programs, such as the Chilean F-16 Peace Puma program and the System of Cooperation Among the American Air Forces (SICOFAA), which illustrate the ongoing development of relationships between countries within the Western Hemisphere.

The Chilean F-16 Peace Puma program will be the cornerstone of a twenty-five year period of close cooperation between the USAF and Chilean Air Force (CAF). The Peace Puma program will provide Chile with the latest in multi-role fighters, thereby strengthening the region's air defense and strike capabilities. In January 2006, the Chilean Air Force will take delivery of the first of ten Block 50 F-16s. These state-of-the-art aircraft represent the very best aspects of the security cooperation program in pursuit of our two nations' mutual goals. Peace Puma will support the defense and security requirements of our Chilean partners in the most expeditious and cost effective manner possible. They will be the centerpiece of our Air Force-to-Air Force relationship and are a significant milestone furthering U.S. and Chilean relations as our nations adapt to overcome the threats poised by regional and global adversaries.

In addition to hardware upgrades, the Peace Puma program serves to enhance professional relationships and foster technical expertise. Developing personnel is vital to security cooperation as our nations organize, train, and equip for defense challenges across the spectrum of military operations. Airmen-to-Airmen programs build professional relationships based on shared tactical and operational competencies, and personal relationships based on trust and shared experiences. These professional and personal relationships are the foundations we are laying in Chile, much as we did with the Royal Air Force in WWI and WWII. In addition to Chile, we are expanding these cooperative relationships throughout Latin America by developing regional goals and programs. One of these programs is the Conference of the American Air Chiefs (CONJEFAMER).

In 1961, General Thomas D. White, then Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force, first conceived the idea of a Conference of the Air Chiefs of the Americas (CONJEFAMER) to "promote greater understanding and cooperation among the air forces of the Americas with a view toward hemispheric security." The first CONJEFAMER was designed to bring freedom from risk, danger, doubt, anxiety, or fear, and to create an environment of confidence among the air forces in the Western Hemisphere. For the last 45 years, the air chiefs of twenty-four countries (eighteen members and six observers) have met and focused on similarities rather than differences, to shared ideals, experiences, and interests in a cooperative, apolitical atmosphere with a mutually agreed upon procedure and protocol. …

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