Recognizing the importance of counter narcotic operations in the Caribbean, Defence IQ, the company that organizes the event, reserved the inaugural sessions on March 12 for focus discussions on that topic. a panel discussion on the operational challenges faced by several Caribbean islands in confronting drug trafficking is scheduled among the highlights for the day. The chiefs of several Caribbean nations’ coast guards: Commander David Chin Fong (Jamaica), Lieutenant Commander Auden Nicholas (Antigua & Barbuda), Commander Wilco van Zanten (Dutch Caribbean), and Commander Darryl Daniel (Trinidad & Tobago) are the panelists scheduled to present and address questions from the audience. Defense IQ is a division of IQPC, the company behind the organization of the Offshore Patrol Vessels Latin America Conference, which took place on May 2012, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. This year, the event will return to Rio, from 18-20 June. “CABSEC 13 will not only help us to establish new relationships with SOUTHCOM’s partner nations, but will also allow us to stress the need to collaborate and share data to understand illicit regional networks, their connections, and how they threaten security and stability in the Caribbean,” said Urrutia-Varhall to Diálogo. At the Caribbean Basin Coastal Surveillance and Maritime Security Conference (CABSEC 13), from March 12 – 14, Brig. Gen. Urrutia-Varhall joins security and defense leaders from countries in the Western Hemisphere and Europe. Together, they are trying to gain insight into the operational hurdles of coordinating counter narcotic operations across multiple island nations, and find ways to strengthen intelligence sharing and regional cooperation. By Dialogo March 12, 2013 From her perspective, transnational organized crime, which encompasses the traffic of narcotics, arms smuggling, human trafficking and illicit financing should be addressed with a “holistic and hemispheric approach.” The Caribbean, South America, Central America, and North America must come together to face this scourge, she insists. “Working this problem as a hemisphere today will allow us to set the template for the future as the rest of the globe begins to deal with the same issues,” she added. To the goal of promoting togetherness in countering our common problems, the type of audience that CABSEC attracted seems perfect. A mix of ambassadors, defense ministers, senior government officials, commanders of coast guards and navies, defense staff and leaders of regional organizations such as the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the attendees represent the whole of society approach that Brig. Gen. Urrutia-Varhall will refer to in her presentation, scheduled for March 13. A couple of weeks before spring sets in the Caribbean, the island of Curaçao is hosting a summit on maritime security, and the United States Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) is there, represented by Brigadier General Linda Urrutia-Varhall, director of Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance. The Inter-American Defense Board, CARICOM Implementation Agency for Crime and Security, and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime are among the roster of international and regional organizations that are also meeting in the Caribbean island off the coast of Venezuela to shed light into the topic of cooperation in coastal and maritime security. Other countries represented at the Curaçao summit include Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Guyana, Honduras, Jamaica, St. Kitts & Nevis, Panama, and Suriname, to mention a few.