The Reach of Ideas

first_imgBy Dialogo April 01, 2012 Transnational organized crime disguises itself as a government in places where state presence is weak, tramples on moral values and brings mourning to Latin American families. The resulting climate of insecurity poisons the ground for economic and social development to take root. To outline strategies and unite efforts against this adversary, which lacks scruples and is rich in resources to finance misdeeds, information operations officers from Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Panama and the United States met at U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) headquarters in Miami, Florida, in early March 2012. Organized by SOUTHCOM’s Information Operations Division, the event promoted the exchange of ideas and lessons learned among countries that share similar challenges, despite experiencing distinct political, economic, cultural and social situations. Brigadier General Steve Arthur, deputy director of SOUTHCOM’s operations division, emphasized the need to work together. “It’s very important that some of us unite and make use of our resources, our material assets and our budgets focused on specific objectives, and your presence here, the fact that you’re meeting here and talking about these issues, is essential in order to move forward in our region,” he said in his welcoming address. During two days of presentations and debates, participants insisted that information operations are a high-caliber weapon for regional military and security forces. Colombia’s expertise in the area stood out. Colonel Javier Molina Calero, director of Information Operations Planning of the Joint Integrated Action Bureau of the South American country’s Armed Forces General Command, spoke about the success of the Integrated Action program in the battle to win Colombians’ hearts and minds. Based on the idea that today’s wars are won with intelligence, more than with force, the program offers a combination of security and the presence of the state in areas that have been at the mercy of guerrillas and drug traffickers for decades. The aim is to permanently uproot irregular groups and contribute to promoting social development with a holistic approach. Representatives of Ecuador said that their country’s Armed Forces organize courses for journalists working for the domestic press. This provides the journalists with a revealing look into the life of Ecuadorean Military personnel, they explained. In Ecuador, information operations directly support the military objectives of the Armed Forces Joint Command (COMACO) and the five operational commands distributed in different areas of the nation. In Ecuador’s northern operational command, which protects 700 kilometers of border with Colombia, information operations are essential to counteract the messages of Voz de la Resistencia (Voice of the Resistance), the broadcast operated by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. Lieutenant Colonel Jorge Villalba, COMACO’s information operations director, highlighted the equipment and training they have received from the U.S. Embassy’s Military Support Group. In addition, the Ecuadorean Army War College already has an information operations course from which several Ecuadorean officers and a Brazilian Army major have just graduated, Lt. Col. Villalba added. Beyond the Borders Protecting the borders is also on the agenda of the Panamanian security forces. Since Panama is an entry point to Central America from the south, the task of the National Border Service (SENAFRONT) is to prevent the nation from being used by organized crime and drug traffickers. Major Eduardo Araúz, a SENAFRONT information operations officer, explained that his work concentrates on neutralizing the illegal activity of criminal organizations and working with the population to protect it from the influence of those groups. Part of this task concentrates on remote towns where the Colombian flag flew until recently. “We’re beginning to bring our tactical, humanitarian aid, and civil operations there, and information operations so that they feel Panamanian,” Araúz commented. “It’s important that they see for themselves that the state is present in each community, in each hamlet, and that we’re bringing them security,” he added. Borders, on the other hand, sometimes inhibit the free flow of experiences among regional military personnel and security forces. Following two days of dialogue, the information officers who participated in the event committed themselves to maintaining an active exchange of knowledge and lessons learned. Visits, regional workshops and joint training were some of the options mentioned by the attendees. Colombia, for example, said that the doors of the International Missions and Integrated Action School are open to students from other nations, while Ecuador offered help in planning, implementation and the training of officers from Latin American countries that do not have information operations programs, as in the case of Mexico. Finally, Colonel Miguel Hobbs, chief of SOUTHCOM’s Information Operations Division, suggested using the All Partners Access Network (APAN), a social-networking tool, to solidify the ties created during the event and learn from one another.center_img Pamphlets, radio stations and other traditional tools are not sufficient to counteract decades of influence by guerrillas and criminal gangs, Col. Molina said. His department develops information operations campaigns that are intertwined with civic support activities to benefit the affected populations and serve to reinforce the Integrated Action program. Among those efforts, he said, is the campaign Fe en la Causa (Faith in the Cause), which highlights the morale and prestige of Colombian Military personnel, as well as other campaigns that are aimed at promoting demobilization, restoring trust in the legal system and the state, and preventing the recruitment of children, adolescents and women. Say It Yourself As in the case of Colombia, it became clear to the other countries represented at the event that the challenge of getting people to trust military personnel is as important or more important now than ever. According to Colonel Rony Urízar, a spokesman for the Guatemalan Defense Ministry, his country’s Army enjoys a positive credibility rating among 81 percent of the population. This achievement, he said, is due to synchronizing words and deeds and by using transparency in handling information. Col. Urízar said that telling the story first, before others shape it as they see fit, is part of the mission of his work team. “Say it all, say it in time, say it yourself,” he stressed, repeating the words of Eduardo Ramírez, who spoke on behalf of SOUTHCOM’s Office of Strategic Communications. last_img read more


Tipp football boss expects tough task from Kerry

first_imgLiam says even though Kerry won’t be at full strength they’ll still be a hard nut to track. He thinks The Kingdom will be formidable opposition despite being without many of their best-known players.Clare have already beaten both counties, meaning that neither Tipp nor Kerry can reach the final of the competition.The match, at Sean Treacy Park in Tipperary Town, gets underway at 2 o’clock on Sunday.last_img


Black Challenge crash out at Amputee World Cup

first_imgGhana crashed out of the 2012 Amputee Football World Cup after a 1-2 to Argentina on Thursday in their last group match in Kaliningrad, Russia.The Black Challenge needed just a draw to go through but went down by two goals early before managing a consolation later, which was little enough to boost their quest for a historic semi final berth.The Argentines, who beat the Ghanaians at the last World Cup 5-0, were more tactical in their play, keeping one player permanently at the top with a more skilful support from their danger man, Augusto Alonso.After their first half goal, the Argentines intensified their game for their second goal in the other half of the game, putting the Black Challenge in a very difficult situation as the minutes tickled away.The South Americans doubled the lead minutes later before Collins Gyamfi, reduced the tally with his fourth goal of the tournament.Ghana will now play England in the play-off for fifth place on Saturday. The Black Challenge finished sixth at the last championship held in Argentina in 2010.Meanwhile, Francis Adjetey Sowah, President of the Amputee Football Federation of Africa (AFFA) and the Ghana Amputee Football Federation (GAFF) will be contesting for the Second Vice President of the World Amputee Football Federation (WAFF) during the congress on Friday.last_img read more


Govt officials not addressing oil payout proposal honestly

first_imgDear Editor,Since Professor Clive Thomas made the proposal that a part of the oil revenue be used to pay cash transfers to each Guyanese household, and the Working People’s Alliance (WPA) subsequently adopting the recommendation, pointing out its potential transformative effects on the lives of the poor and powerless in the country, there have been a number of letters and articles expressing opinions for and against.I am aware that Dr Thomas and the WPA welcome the spirited debate that has emerged so far in response to the proposal, and are paying keen attention to positions and ideas coming from both policymakers and citizens.While I appreciate the interest shown in this matter, I am personally disappointed that critics, including Government officials, have chosen not to address the proposal honestly, but instead to engage in the tactics of deliberate misrepresentation and disinformation. Interestingly, this approach to the debate cuts across the political divide (Government, Opposition, and civil society), so much so that a case can be made that morality and honesty in public debate have become something that our political culture is devoid of.To illustrate the above, I have chosen to cite a recent letter written by Hamilton Green and published in the Guyana Chronicle’s Monday, August 13, 2018 edition, under the caption, “ Professor Thomas’ proposal may not be the best course of action”. Green has been a politician and public administrator for most of his adult life, and as he reminds readers, he had been “…on the hustings for generations”. Now retired, he has ample time to read and comprehend, and in relation to the Thomas/WPA recommendation for the use of part of the oil money as cash transfers to each Guyanese household, I can only assume that the veteran politician has done so. But his letter runs contrary to that logic and forces one to conclude, that he consciously decided to engage in deception and disinformation in stating his position on the proposal, bearing in mind that Thomas and the WPA made it quite clear that the cash transfers to each household of a minimum of one million Guyana dollars annually, would amount to a very small portion of the expected oil money since it represents between two to five per cent of gross revenue.This means that the Government has at least 95 per cent of the oil revenue to spend on other policy initiatives. Hamilton Green and similarly minded critics have mentioned in letters and articles many areas that the money should be spent on. In Green’s letter, he cited seven areas, all of which and more can be funded from the 95 per cent of the oil revenue the Government will have after giving the five per cent in cash transfers to the poor and powerless.I am convinced that the detractors of the proposal are aware that the Thomas/WPA proposal represents a very small portion of the enormous wealth that will be in the hands of those who manage the State. In spite of this knowledge, they choose to demonstrate ignorance in the public space (not understanding simple maths). In doing so they do a disservice to themselves and the country.The way they are debating this important national issue gave Clifford Krauss the ammunition to justify his ridiculous and racist description of our country and its people.Finally, I end by taking note of an article published on August 14, 2018 captioned, “Justice For All leader hammers WPA cash transfer proposal”. In this article, the Honourable Minister, Mr Jaipaul Sharma is quoted as referring to “… the suggestion from the WPA that oil revenues should be used for cash payouts to every Guyanese…”. This clearly illustrates my point about the dishonest approach to this debate by some Government officials. If he is quoted correctly, the Minister is devoid of political morality – he can’t claim that he doesn’t know the difference between each household and every Guyanese.Sincerely,Tacuma Ogunseyelast_img read more