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Remarks by Secretary Gates at Conference of the Defense Ministers of the Americas in Santa Cruz, Bolivia
Thank you, Minister Saavedra, for welcoming and hosting us here in the city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra. It is a real pleasure to be here with my fellow ministers in such a beautiful setting. I know that a good deal of work went into preparing for this ministerial and I would like to extend my praise and appreciation to all involved, particularly the government of Bolivia
I would start today by restating what I said to this gathering in Banff two years ago: that the security challenges we face in our hemisphere – natural and man-made disasters, sophisticated and brutal criminal networks, illicit drugs, weapons and human trafficking – are transnational threats that affect us all. That is why I emphasized then, and I do so again today, that to successfully confront these challenges we must stand and work together as true partners. Indeed, the recent tragedy in Haiti taught us once again that the need for partnership and cooperation among the nations of the Americas is more urgent than ever...
Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates
...Another important theme we will take up, “democracy, armed forces, security, and society,” offers an opportunity to examine how to strengthen civilian capacity in our defense ministries. Civilian expertise in defense matters is crucial. In fact, it is a critical prerequisite for civilian control of the military, itself a key component of true democracy.
But greater civilian expertise requires more education, which is often lacking. Therefore, I am pleased to announce that the Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies (CHDS) has offered to host workshops for those interested in strengthening the civilian role in defense ministries. The center has also committed to providing each of you and your ministry two scholarships to its courses, which is exactly the type of exchange that fosters mutual understanding. [Complete Article, U.S. Department of Defense, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs), November 22, 2010]