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HomeOpinionCommentarySymbolic of our enduring partnership and shared values

Symbolic of our enduring partnership and shared values

– Ambassador Nicole D. Theriot, Regional Security System Council of Ministers Meeting, March 22, 2024

By Nicole D. Theriot

I want to take a moment to reflect on how amazing it is to see the continued growth, collaboration, and trust between Regional Security System (RSS) members. I am particularly heartened by the recent addition of Guyana into your ranks. I want to make special note of Guyana’s role this year as RSS chair from 2023 through 2024. Even though a new member, Guyana demonstrated a deep collaborative spirit by so quickly assuming the chair. Minister Benn, your leadership as the chair, amid regional challenges, has served as an example for answering the call of service, thank you.

RSS collaborative successes are even more remarkable considering the new, complex security challenges that have emerged in our shared neighbourhood over the past year. From an assistance mission in Saint Lucia responding to increased gun violence to the organization’s preparations to support the Multinational Security Support Mission for Haiti, the RSS continues to serve as an anchor for security and stability in the region as it has for more than four decades.

Amid these challenges, the United States continues to be a proud, committed, and dedicated partner with the RSS, supporting the organization and its member states in tackling the myriad regional issues that affect our collective security. This year, the US. Drug Enforcement Administration and the State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs – INL – are working with RSS partners to establish a RSS vetted unit. This unit will help member states combat transnational criminal organizations, a threat affecting the stability and security of not only the member states, but also the entire region. INL also continues to be a resolute sponsor of the RSS Air Wing, Digital Forensics Lab, and other initiatives.

Together, we have collaborated to combat trafficking in arms, drug trafficking, human trafficking, enhance port security, develop climate resiliency, address cyber security, among many other critical issues facing the region – and the United States. Last year, the RSS coordinated with the US. Department of Homeland Security’s Joint Task Force-East to execute a joint Operation Caribbean Combine – the first-ever multi-threat, multi-domain counter-trafficking operation in the Eastern Caribbean. The operation was a clear success, with the detection of over 14 separate instances of trafficking in our waters.

Our relationship is not just about tackling the issues of today, but it is also about meeting the challenges of tomorrow. Just this year, we brought a mobile training team from the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation to the RSS, fostering exchanges, advancing professional development, and introducing new ideas for developing tomorrow’s leaders. We also broke ground in Barbados this winter on a new maritime engineering warehouse that will serve as a focal point for joint maritime training among the RSS member states.

The United States also provided opportunities for strengthening our regional engagements such as US Southern Command’s TRADEWINDS exercise – hosted here in Guyana just last year and scheduled to be held next in Barbados in only a few short months. Tradewinds is a great hands-on and practical mechanism to foster stronger collaboration not only among the RSS members or between the RSS and the United States, but also with our partners across the region.

The United States stands with you as a willing partner in tackling regional challenges, shoulder to shoulder with the members of the RSS. The beauty of organizations like the RSS is that through collective action, we can achieve more than any of us can alone.

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