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The Perry Center is a U.S.
Department of Defense institution for defense and security studies in the
Western Hemisphere. Through courses, seminars, outreach, strategic dialogue,
and focused research in support of policy objectives, the Perry Center works with
senior civilian and military officials from the Americas to build strong,
sustainable networks of security and defense leaders and institutions. In so
doing, the Perry Center promotes greater understanding of U.S. policy, mutually
supportive approaches to security challenges, and improved, sustainable
A Brief History:
The William J. Perry Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies (CHDS) is a product of the Defense Ministerial of the Americas (DMA) process that began in Williamsburg, Virginia, in 1995. Latin American civilian and military defense officials expressed deep concerns over the relative lack of civilians prepared to deal knowledgeably with defense and military issues in their countries. In response, U.S. Secretary of Defense William Perry proposed creating a regional center to address this problem during the second Defense Ministerial held at Bariloche, Argentina, in 1996. Secretary Perry envisioned an educational center tailored to the unique requirements of the Western Hemisphere where many countries wished to strengthen civilian defense and security leadership in revitalized democracies.
Between 1996 and September 1997, preparatory work for what became CHDS was conducted by a team from the U.S. Department of Defense and the National Defense University which included consultation with regional stakeholders such as the defense ministries and civilian academics. Activated on 17 September 1997, CHDS opened its doors, the following day, with a Hemispheric Conference on Education and Defense, 18-19 September 1997. Its first Director and two faculty members officially reported for duty in December and CHDS conducted its first three-week course, the Defense Planning and Resource Management Courses in March 1998. The Center also conducted the first of many in-region seminars in Bolivia that year.