The United States is continuing to actively engage with its allies and partners in South America, Central America, and the Caribbean. These are nations that “share our democratic values and our commitment to work together for a stable and peaceful hemisphere,” said Admiral Kurt Tidd, head of U.S. Southern Command.
The region is under a variety of threats, he declared: “Criminal networks leverage all means available to move lethal narcotics, people, weapons and dirty money into and out of Latin America and the U.S. homeland.” In addition, terrorist organizations like ISIS reach into our hemisphere seeking to inspire attacks and gain recruits.
There is also the ever-present danger of natural disasters, which can lead to enormous humanitarian concerns.
In addition, there are dangers posed by China, Russia and Iran. Admiral Tidd noted that these countries are actively seeking footholds in the region, and do not believe in “the freedoms and principles that we share with democratic nations in the Western Hemisphere. Those freedoms and principles are what unite us,” he said, “and we are watchful for attempts by China, Russia and Iran to erode those shared principles to threaten our interests, or undermine our partnerships within the region.”
These concerns are driving U.S. efforts to continue building a network of capable partners across the federal government, the Western Hemisphere, and ultimately the international community.
Last year, for example, U.S. Southern Command partnered with U.S. Northern Command to cohost a Central American security conference with Mexico; in February, it hosted an opioid summit with interagency partners to identify ways to unify U.S. response to our nation’s deadly opioid crisis.
U.S. regional partners are increasingly contributing to multinational efforts. Last fiscal year, he noted, “Joint Interagency Task Force South interdicted 283 metric tons of cocaine, thanks in large part to our partners in the region.” And in the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, U.S. Southern Command “worked side-by-side with Caribbean and European partners to evacuate and deliver aid to thousands of victims.”
Admiral Tidd said the long-standing ties the United State enjoys with the nations of the Western hemisphere who share our democratic values “should never be taken for granted.”