Convergence – Illicit Networks and National Security in the Age of Globalization
Illicit networks affect everyone in our modern, globalized world. From human trafficking in Eastern Europe to drug smuggling in East Asia, to the illicit arms trade in Africa, to terrorist cells in East Asia and insurgents in the Caucasus, transnational illicit networks have tentacles that reach everywhere. The trade in illegal narcotics is perhaps most worrisome, but of growing concern is the illicit trafficking of counterfeit items, weapons, natural resources, money, cultural property, and even people by shrewd, well-resourced, and nefarious adversaries.
I have experience combating these threats personally at the tactical, operational, and strategic levels. As a young naval officer on a variety of ships, I spent a fair amount of time patrolling the global commons where transnational criminals in the guise of pirates and drug smugglers proliferate. I was in the Pentagon on 9/11 and personally experienced the global reach of modern terrorism. Later on, when I commanded U.S. Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM), one of my subordinate commands was Joint Interagency Task Force–South in Key West, Florida, a multinational and interagency/interministerial command that counters drug trafficking in the Western Hemisphere. I also experienced the pernicious effects that transnational crime has on our friends as it ranges throughout the entire Western Hemisphere. After leaving USSOUTHCOM to become commander at U.S. European Command (USEUCOM), I saw that Europe was also challenged by the same types of transnational crime. In response, I stood up the Joint/Interagency Counter Trafficking Center in Stuttgart, Germany, designed to counter transnational criminal networks in cooperation with our international partners.
When I took command of USEUCOM, I also became the Supreme Allied Commander, Europe (SACEUR). As SACEUR, I command Operation Active Endeavor, which counters trafficking in the Mediterranean, and Operation Ocean Shield, which is part of the international counterpiracy efforts off the Somali coast. In addition, we have pioneered responses to cyber threats. At the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe, we have the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Computer Incident Response Center, and at USEUCOM, we are taking steps to create a subunified cyber command that will have links to both U.S. Cyber Command in the United States and USEUCOM in Germany.