The Third Border

December 15, 2016 OPINION/NEWS

By

Ricardo Swire

Caribbean nations’ importance as the US “third border” is often overlooked. America and Canada depend on law enforcement cooperation in illegal drug trafficking, migrant smuggling and financial crimes that threaten both foreign and regional security interests.

The charged global situation has changed geographical space to political areas. The 2004 Madrid bombers morphed from transnational criminals to global terrorists. After the devastation of 9/11’s terrorism Washington applied an active and layered Homeland Security (HS) defense system, domestic protection designed to “deter, intercept and defeat potential threats at a safe distance.”

Today several Caribbean nations find themselves entangled in multi-dimensional international threats that inextricably connect. The Caribbean archipelago’s security tribulations are America and Canada’s challenges. The Caribbean Basin’s commercial value and importance is proven by the international cargo mega-ships that sail from North America and transit the Panama Canal. Such vessels navigate courses across the Caribbean Sea, to and from the US East Coast.

Caribbean threats mirror international dangers. In May 2015 “Team System Dz,” an Algeria based hacker group, penetrated official computer databases of the University of Toronto and Isle of Wright County in Virginia, USA. A few weeks later the same Algerian hackers electronically breached Jamaica’s national security protection. Team System Dz illegally manipulated the websites of Jamaica’s House of Parliament and Jamaica Information Service (JIS), the Jamaica National Commission for the United Nations (UN) Educational, Scientific & Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the Culture, Health, Arts, Sports & Education (CHASE) Fund, GC Foster College and the Social Development Commission (SDC).

In June 2016 Team System Dz’s hacking pendulum swung towards American marks. The Algeria based hackers invaded and defaced Wisconsin’s Richland County Government websites. Those penetrated were the Richland County Government, Richland County Sheriff’s Department, Richland County Ambulance Service, Veterans Services, the Recycling Committee, Health and Human Services, County Fair, Land Conservation Department, Parks Commission and Richland County Emergency Management.

America and Canada both regard the Caribbean’s topography especially important in the Wars on Terror and Drugs. Member states form a natural territorial semicircle. Belize, Guyana and Suriname secure land borders. The remaining Caribbean island states guard territorial waters. In March 2015 the Marine Corps General leading US Southern Command, headquartered in Doral Florida, reported to America’s Senate Armed Forces Committee that one hundred IS recruits departed Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, Suriname and Venezuela, to join conflicts originated in Syria. He cautioned regarding the high risk of such individuals crossing the US border after returning home.

The Caribbean Basin serves as America’s southern flank or Third Border, an importance that should validate the region as a separate geo-strategic concern, rather than the typical series of bilateral diplomatic associations. Southern approaches to the USA lead off from Mexico, mainland Central America, northern South America that includes CARICOM members Guyana and Suriname. Two CARICOM states, Antigua & Barbuda and the Bahamas, accommodate US military space program facilities.

For more than three decades Antigua & Barbuda’s location, in the lower Northern Hemisphere, allowed the Antigua Air Station to track performances of American Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) test vehicles and military satellites. Antigua’s Air Station functioned as part of the US Space Command (USSPACECOM) Space Surveillance Forces. Interlinked with similar facilities at Kaena Point in Hawaii and Ascension Island in the South Atlantic Ocean, the Antigua Radar Station clocked one hundred and twenty-eight hours weekly, monitoring operational satellites and spacecraft.

Last year the US’ Antigua Air Station and its associated company Computer Science Raytheon (CSR), an employer of one hundred Antiguan staff, were discontinued. The radar system dismantled and moved to Harold E Holt Naval Communication Station in northwest Australia. The Bahamas still houses the US Atlantic Underwater Testing & Evaluation Center (AUTEC), an instrumented laboratory for deep sea warfare trendsetters.

AUTEC’s support base and downrange tracking stations are positioned on Andros Island west of Nassau, one hundred and eighty nautical miles southeast of West Palm Beach, Florida. The deep water Weapons Range extends parallel to Andros Island’s east coast. It is the largest and most adaptable AUTEC range, with capability of tracking a maximum sixty-three objects simultaneously.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ricardo Swire - Tuck Magazine

Ricardo Swire

Ricardo Swire is the Principal Consultant at R-L-H Security Consultants & Business Support Services and writes on a number of important issues.

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