Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Trilateral Defense Ministers Meeting Continues to Build North American Security Framework

By Dana Gabriel

As an extension of the North American Leaders Summit which was held in February, the defense ministers from the U.S., Canada and Mexico quietly met last month to discuss continental security issues. During the conference, they addressed shared defense and security challenges. This includes threats posed by cyber attacks and transnational criminal organizations. The North American security relationship has evolved with Mexico being increasingly viewed as a valued part of the continental defense team. The U.S., Canada and Mexico are building the framework for greater cooperation on common security issues. They are expanding security arrangements and are further establishing new institutions at a continental level. The trilateral defense ministers meeting, which received very little media attention is part of the process of integrating military planning and coordination into a North American security perimeter.

On April 24, Mexico's Secretary of National Defense General Salvador Zepeda Cienfuegos and Naval Secretary Admiral Vidal Francisco Soberon Sanz hosted the Second Trilateral Meeting of North American Defense Ministers with their counterparts, U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Canadian Defense Minister Robert Nicholson. A joint statement explained that, “Threats to North America and the hemisphere are increasingly complex and require coordinated responses. Building upon the trilateral collaboration under the North American Leaders Summit process, we remain committed to enhancing our common understanding of those threats and developing effective and efficient approaches needed to address them.” It went on to say, “With this foundation, our countries continue to work together to address the security and defense challenges that our continent faces. We acknowledge that transnational threats require transnational responses and are committed to furthering our collaboration.” The Inaugural Meeting of North American Defense Ministers was held in March 2012.