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Blending U.S. Strategy for Engagement in Central America with Foreign Internal Defense
by Daniel E. Ward
The current security situation in the Northern Triangle of Central America (comprised of El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala) and southern Mexico is progressively deteriorating and not necessarily because of a lack of tools or resources. While more funding and manpower is always appreciated, current efforts lack a true regional focus that blends elements of the resource, training, and funding streams into a comprehensive strategy for the region. Limited-scope projects are not organized to complement one another across borders. The opposition in this venture, which includes drug trafficking organizations, transnational criminal organizations, and general security and stability constructs, does not adhere to borders. Therefore, the aid and assistance packages to the region must be nuanced to focus on actual regional stability.
To achieve greater success, the U.S. should employ an approach that blends resources and aid from the U.S. Strategy for Engagement in Central America together with foreign internal defense (FID) mechanisms, specifically in terms of the Internal Defense and Development (IDAD) model, to project a more cohesive and strategic plan for dealing with the stability and security of the Northern Triangle and southern Mexico. To create a regional mission set, the U.S. must be willing to work as a partner, not as a paternal power, and coordinate through existing Latin American political apparatus, both directly with the affected nations and with regional organizations, such as the Organization of American States (OAS). This coordination will allow for greater buy-in from the affected states and potential partnering nations for assistance. Mexico will be a unique element, in that the focus will be on its southern border, particularly the state of Chiapas, and that its existing capabilities are much more significant than the Northern Triangle countries…
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Mr. Daniel E. Ward is a former U.S. Coast Guard officer, and currently works as a criminal investigator. He holds a BS in civil engineering from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, and a master’s degree in Defense and Strategic Studies from the University of Texas at El Paso. His work experience includes maritime and riverine operations, protective services and security operations, as well as criminal investigations. He has spent extensive time working alongside host nation partners, particularly in Latin America.