Transnational Threats Symposium: The Illicit Commons
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02 Feb 2012

CHDS, along with the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, the Near East and South Asia Center for Strategic Studies, and the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, are cosponsoring a four-day seminar on countering transnational threats and narcotics trade at the National Defense University. The symposium, which is taking place February 13 – 20, 2012, is focused on the increased flow of cocaine from South America, through North America, and into Europe.

Illicit Commons Symposium

Senior leaders attending the symposium: (from L to R) VADM William F. Landay III, Hon. William F. Wechsler, Amb (ret.) William M. Bellamy, and VADM Ann E. Rondeau.

Africa Center Director William Bellamy opened the conference by welcoming the participants, which included senior officials from the Pentagon, Africa Command, Central Command, Southern Command, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, and invitees from more than two dozen countries. In his opening remarks, Ambassador Bellamy said that he hoped that together they would develop a growing “community of influence” to arresting the growth of partnerships between terrorists and criminals, specifically narcotics cartels. Addressing the members of four of the five regional centers, composed of Europe, the Americas, the Near East, and South and Central Asia, he stressed the importance of international coordination in countering the activities of terrorists and criminals who increasingly work together, a circumstance that he called “complicated and demanding.”

Ambassador Bellamy then introduced Vice Admiral Ann Rondeau, president of the National Defense University, who welcomed participants and guests to the National Defense University, the nation’s “premier joint professional military education entity supporting the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the secretary of defense.”

At the conclusion of Admiral Rondeau’s address, Ambassador Bellamy introduced the Keynote Speaker, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Counternarcotics and Global Threats William Wechsler, who spoke of the challenges and threats facing those who try counter international narcotics-related criminal behavior, highlighting the nexus of terrorism and criminal activity. Terrorists have taken to adopting successful criminal techniques and vice versa, and the two groups have found ways to work together to reach their desired ends, using drug trafficking as a tool.

The speakers underscored key opportunities for international and interagency cooperation, emphasizing a national security need for mutual strategic focus and operational dialogue.