A head of the U.S. Army’s Southern Command called on the Americas to join forces against the threats of illicit trafficking and terrorism, as a joint military training exercise opened in El Salvador.

Special operations head Thomas Brown made his comments as 18 countries from South and Central America began a week-long training exercise in together with the U.S. on Wednesday.

“It is essential to join forces to combat the forces that threaten the security and prosperity of our nations, such as drug trafficking and terrorism,” explained Brown.

Fuerzas Comando 2011 is a joint military exercise that will allow participants to demonstrate their military skills, and build regional solidarity in the fight against the organized crime that plagues the region, according to the official.

The joint military exercise began just a week before the Central American Security Conference, to be held in Guatemala, where Nicaragua has been asked to highlight its successful policing model, which has been described as one of the best in the region.

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