Part II: United States Southern Command and Latin America

hariette spierings hariette at
Thu Jun 13 15:02:51 MDT 1996

>Defense Ministerial of the Americas
>SouthCom provided significant support to the Defense Ministerial Of the
>Americas. SouthCom's presentation at Langley Air Force Base to the
>arriving Ministers Of Defense and to their delegations showed how our
>military-to-military exercise program supports U.S. regional security
>interests in general. More importantly, SouthCOM displayed its support for
>the three themes of the Ministerial: Armed Forces in a Democracy; and
>Defense Cooperation Confidence and Security Building Measures; and Defense
>Cooperation Initiatives.
>We appreciated the opportunity to participate in this first ever meeting
>of the Defense Ministers of the Western Hemisphere. All of our subsequent
>discussions with leaders from the AoR point to the Ministerial as a
>significant step toward greater defense cooperation among the nations of
>the region. A number of the participating nations have initiated
>discussions with their neighbors over long- standing border disputes as a
>result of the Ministerial. Guatemala and Belize are examples.
>Military Engagements through Combined Operations
>SouthCom operations seek to involve the military forces of multiple
>nations. The purpose of these multilateral combined operations is to
>promote disciplined, technically-competent militaries respectful of the
>rule of law. SouthCom exercises also aim to promote regional cooperative
>security and foster appropriate roles, force structures, and doctrines for
>democratic Latin American militaries. SouthCom's combined military
>operations include training deployments and exchanges, multinational
>training exercises, military command post exercises, military engineering
>and medical exercises, conferences, and security assistance programs.
>In Fiscal Year 1995, the 800-strong SouthCom headquarters, a
>battalion-sized element, provided strategic and operational direction for
>more than 3,100 deployments involving over 56,000 soldiers, Sailors,
>airmen, and Marines. In the past three years, more than 80,000 of the
>176,000 total deploying U.S. forces have been National Guardsmen and
>Reservists. They come from all military services and from every state of
>the Union and Puerto Rico. Approximately 40 percent of the deployments in
>Fiscal Year 1996 will be conducted by the Reserves.
>Because of the importance of military institutions in Latin American
>societies, SouthCom's extensive military-to-military relationships are key
>to achieving U.S. national security objectives.
>Map deleted
>Multinational Exercises
>In 1995, SouthCom continued its transition from bilateral to multinational
>foreign military interaction exercises.
>Multinational exercises are focused on a specific theme; for example,
>counterdrug air operations, riverine operations, disaster relief,
>non-combatant evacuation, or allied support in conventional and
>contingency operations. Some of these exercises are supported by computer
>simulation models.
>The 36th iteration of the annual multilateral naval exercise, "Unitas"
>occurred in 1995. This exercise was conducted in 10 phases over a five
>month period. It started with an annual deployment to Puerto Rico followed
>by deployments moving counterclockwise around the South American
>continent. Task Force-138 deployed more than 2,800 U.S. personnel from the
>Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard under the command of Rear Admiral Martin J.
>Mayer. The task force conducted combined operations with the navies of
>Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Brazil.
>The exercise also included ships from Canada, France, the Netherlands and
>Spain. In all, more than 100 foreign ships, submarines, and aviation
>assets were involved.
>A SouthCom-sponsored peacekeeping command post exercise conducted in
>Buenos Aires, Argentina in August 1995, involved many countries engaged in
>ongoing peacekeeping operations in Europe, Africa, and Asia, as well as in
>the Caribbean and South America. The exercise was led by General Martin
>Antonio Balza, Chief of Staff of the Argentine Army. The exercise featured
>a complex peacekeeping scenario that replicated many of the challenges
>facing the peacekeepers in Bosnia. For the first time, the former
>combatants from the War of the Triple Alliance (1865-1870), Argentina,
>Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay, came together for a military exercise.
>The U.S. Army's Peacekeeping Institute, the School of the Americas, XVIII
>Airborne Corps, the 10th Infantry Division (Mountain), and U.S. Army South
>also participated in this exercise. It was one of our most innovative and
>successful multinational training events to date. SouthCom looks to build
>on this success with a follow-on multinational peacekeeping exercise in
>Uruguay in September 1996.
>Humanitarian Exercises and Operations
>The U.S. commitment to supp6rt our regional allies was further
>demonstrated by SouthCom in a regional disaster relief exercise conducted
>at Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras, in November 1995. A total of 169 military
>and governmental disaster relief officials from Honduras, Belize,
>Guatemala, El Salvador, Barbados, Nicaragua, and Trinidad and Tobago
>participated. Additionally, observers from Bolivia, Brazil, Costa Rica,
>Guyana, Jamaica, Panama, and Peru were present.
>The exercise provided a forum to employ the newly formed Central American
>Coordination Center for the Prevention of Natural Disasters in Central
>America, a regional organization similar in function to the U.S. Federal
>Emergency Management Agency. The participants engaged in a realistic
>exerc-ise which was credited with greatly assisting Nicaraguan officials
>to cope with the havoc wrought by a volcanic eruption which occurred
>shortly after the exercise. This exercise also enhanced regional dialogue
>among Central American nations.
>SouthCom sponsors a number of Humanitarian and Civic Assistance (HCA)
>projects conducted in conjunction with military exercises. These HCA
>prO3ects provide medical care, improve public sanitation, wells, and
>roads, and construct simple schools, medical clinics, and bridges.
>Servicemen and women benefit from practicing skills, but also serve as
>role models for the allied military units with whom they work. There were
>129 engineer and medical HCA projects within the SouthCom AoR for Fiscal
>Year 1995. Medical units treated more than 89,000 patients during medical
>exercises. Engineer exercises accounted for construction or repair of
>seven clinics, 36 schools, and 38 wells.
>Additionally, to reach remote areas in support of HCA projects, three
>roads and eight bridges were upgraded.
>By themselves these programs are not the engine of change, but they afford
>relief, support the infrastructure necessary to promote political and
>economic development, and provide an excellent training vehicle for U.S.
>and Latin American militaries.
>One of the more challenging humanitarian missions conducted by SouthCom in
>the past year was the humanitarian relief provided to Cuban migrants. The
>care of 8,677 migrants in temporary camps in Panama from September 1994
>through February 1995, serves as a testimony to the training, discipline,
>and compassion of American military and civilian personnel. However, this
>effort to erect camps and provide assistance to people in desperate
>circumstances was marred by three days of violence in December 1994, by a
>small segment of the camp population. our soldiers, Sailors, airmen, and
>Marines responded with enormous discipline and restraint to quickly end
>this disturbance and restore order.
>More than 5,600 U.S. troops directly supported the camps, including
>augmenting forces from the U.S. In every instance, our servicemen and
>women performed their duties superbly, preserving the Cubans' dignity
>while ensuring that their human rights were not violated. When the period
>allowed by the government of Panama for temporary shelter in Panama
>expired, the migrants were moved to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. This movement
>was conducted flawlessly without violence or incident. As post-Cold War
>missions continue to require U.S. forces to provide humanitarian
>assistance, this operation will serve as a benchmark for success.
>The Armed Forces and Human Rights
>Latin America's past has been marked by egregious human rights abuses
>committed by security forces, insurgents, political organizations, and
>individuals. However, there is reason to be optimistic that the region's
>human rights record will continue to improve. The continued strengthening
>of democratic governments and the end of Cuban and Soviet inspired
>insurgency combine to make subversion, terrorism, and accompanying
>restraints on civil liberties less likely. Civil society has also become
>increasingly influential as a result of the of the media and the
>contributions of non- governmental organizations.
>There will continue to be debate in different countries over how to
>address this legacy of human rights abuse. While SouthCom is concerned
>about the administration of justice, this issue is best addressed by
>encouraging appropriate political and legal mechanisms within each
>individual country. Our military focus is on sharing ideas and training on
>how human rights should be fully integrated with operational military
>A SouthCom Human Rights Steering Group has been established to coordinate
>and oversee human rights issues and initiatives within the Command. Its
>purpose is to ensure that SouthCom has a credible, visible, and executable
>human rights program which integrates human rights awareness into all of
>our military-to-military initiatives.
>SouthCom believes we can contribute to the reduction of human suffering
>and the loss of individual dignity through a program of multinational
>interaction that demonstrates and reinforces the ideals of liberty and
>Accordingly, all U.S. forces receive human rights awareness training prior
>to deploying to the region. The need to respect the dignity of the
>civilian populace in all types of military operations is at the heart of
>that instruction. The protection and promotion of human rights form an
>integral part of our theater objectives and basic military operational
>Realistic, challenging scenarios have enhanced our multinational training
>program. SouthCom also incorporates ethical dilemmas into the
>multinational exercises we sponsor. Finally, SouthCom has integrated the
>experience and expertise of the interagency, non-governmental agency, and
>academic communities to enhance the effectiveness of our human rights
>awareness program. Their involvement also reinforces the concept that our
>Armed Forces are accountable directly to our civilian leadership and to
>our people.
>In February 1996, SouthCom co-hosted a Human Rights Conference in Miami
>with the Inter-American Institute of Human Rights. This first- ever
>regional forum collectively reiterated established regional and
>international norms for human rights (Geneva Conventions, Organization of
>American States, and United Nations Declarations). The conference also
>examined shared roles, responsibilities, and relationships for protecting
>and promoting human rights. Ultimately, the Human Rights Conference
>explored the central role human rights will play in regional peace and
>security for the Americas into the next century.
>Security Assistance
>Security assistance enhances U.S. engagement with regional allies and
>improves interoperability with their armed forces. The low rate of milit
>ary expenditures throughout this region accurately reflects a new reality:
>a decrease in inter-state tension and greater stability. Cooperation and
>trust among traditional rivals are at an all time high.
>Nevertheless, Latin American militaries have legitimate defense
>modernization requirements. It is in the United States' best interest that
>they buy U.S. equipment so that the United States can influence the
>timetable for its introduction into the region. In an age of declining
>defense budgets, it is more important than ever before that the United
>States remain attuned to these needs.
>The Foreign Military Financing Program in Latin America continues to
>decline, shrinking from $212.7 million in Fiscal Year 1991 to $0 in Fiscal
>Year 1996 (proposed). As a result of these cuts, the U.S. ability to
>influence the direction and scope of regional military modernization is
>significantly reduced.
>International Military Education and Training (IMET)
>Although total security assistance has decreased, one bright spot is the
>increase in the IMET funding level for SouthCom. Hopefully this increase
>is the beginning of a trend.
>Graph deleted
>IMET continues to be one of our most cost-effective means of inculcating
>U.S. values and beliefs into the region's militaries. In Fiscal Year 1995,
>this program provided training for 1,524 students. This low-cost,
>high-return program is worthy of continued support and expansion.
>Spanish Language Schools
>The U.S. military's three Spanish language schools continue to be useful
>tools for influencing large numbers of Latin American military personnel.
>The instruction at these institutions has evolved to meet the evolving
>challenges faced by regional militaries. Attendance continues to be
>strong. Fiscal Year 95 attendance figures were 844 at the U.S. Army School
>of the Americas, 432 at the Inter-American Air Forces Academy, and 220 at
>the Naval Small Craft Instruction and Technical Training School. These
>schools provide a secondary benefit as well. For example, nearly 200
>students who completed helicopter training in Fiscal Year 1995 augmented
>efforts in support of the U.S. counterdrug strategy.
>Traditional CinC Activities
>Traditional CinC Activities are those military-to-military events
>conducted throughout our theater to accomplish national security goals
>such as strengthening democracy and promoting regional security. These
>activities focus on promoting respect for human rights and the rule of
>law. They include the sharing of ideas, expertise, and experience On such
>diverse topics as disaster relief, search and rescue, Public affairs,
>preventive medicine/ and legal reforms. Traditional CinC Activities are
>simple and responsive. They are tailored to local situations in order to
>most effectively influence each nation's armed forces.
>In SouthCom, this valuable program encompasses every country in the AoR,
>promoting military values while building trust and reducing tensions among
>neighbors. Conferences/ unit exchanges, and visits are just some of the
>common tools used to build relationships around shared military ties and
>varied skills. By including mid-grade officers and noncommissioned
>Officers as well as more senior leaders, the investment made by this
>supporting low cost, high payoff program will continue to provide
>dividends for years to come.
>Supporting U.S. Agencies to Execute the National Drug Control Strategy
>Presidential Decision Directive 14 (PDD-14) commits the United States to
>promote regional counterdrug cooperation and bolster the political will
>and counterdrug capabilities of the source nations. This strategy is
>proving to be the most effective means of obtaining tangible results and
>maintaining the pressure on drug traffickers.
>There is clear progress being made against drug trafficking due to the
>U.S. government's concentration on source countries. Efforts to set
>conditions for unilateral, bilateral, and multilateral operations have
>been fruitful in reducing the flow of drugs from the source countries.
>Today, the increased risk to the drug trafficker is reflected in the cost
>to smuggle drugs from Bolivia and Peru into Colombia. The price has
>increased nine-fold from $20,000 to $180,000 per flight. A meaningful
>difference in limiting the proliferation of drugs is occurring, largely
>due to tactical, not strategic, successes; the availability and price of
>cocaine in the U.S. have not been affected.
>"Narcotraffickers don't think in terms of borders. Indeed they take
>advantage of this mind set. They violate sovereignty. So the only way to
>deal with the narcotrafficking problem is to treat it as a regional
>problem..." -- Doctor William Perry
>Secretary of Defense
>It is a challenge to apply available resources from all counterdrug
>agencies, foreign and domestic, to affect the critical nodes of
>production, trafficking, and consumption. When done properly, the synergy
>derived from the collective efforts of the United States government is
>impressive. Whether it is determining certification standards, developing
>crop eradication strategies and alternative development plans, promoting
>public awareness, or planning combined military training, the interagency
>and international process is producing results. By making a sustained
>effort to improve interagency cooperation and promote the regional focus
>of our allies, the United States is seeing evidence of an increase in
>political will and a growing sense of shared responsibility among Latin
>American nations to eliminate this menace.
>The narcotrafficker is vulnerable. Counterdrug actions that are
>coordinated among the various U.S. government agencies and the nations of
>the region are better able to exploit this vulnerability. It is not easy.
>The effort requires the United States to maintain a long- term view and
>sustained commitment to a regional interagency counterdrug program.
>Narcotics-related corruption scandals in Colombia, Bolivia, and Peru
>overshadow many of the successes in dismantling drug cartels and
>disrupting drug trafficking. Border conflicts distract from progress made
>in cross-border counterdrug cooperation. Yet, in the end, the positive
>results outweigh the setbacks.
>The dedication of the military and law enforcement officials of our allied
>nations demonstrates great courage and tenacity in the counterdrug effort.
>The results are significant. Detected international drug flights from Peru
>are down 45 percent from 1994.
>Interdiction of the air trafficking routes has forced traffickers to
>stockpile their coca paste, causing coca base prices to plummet 61 percent
>in selected areas of Peru. Results of combined operations with Peru and
>Colombia in 1995 are equally impressive: 65,000 acres (1.5 times the area
>of Washington, D.C.)
>As a result of the current counterdrug effort in Latin America, positive
>trends are occurring. Narcotraffickers are becoming more wary of losing
>pilots and planes. More coca farmers are abandoning their illicit crops to
>explore alternative opportunities. Colombian drug cartel control is
>slipping, evidenced by increased direct coordination between Mexican and
>Peruvian narcotrafficking organizations.
>These impressive results come not only from the application of equipment
>and technology. The increased professionalism of allied forces (police and
>military) who, along with law enforcement officers of the United States,
>risk their lives daily, is key. Further results will require a greater
>level of regional cooperation in order to ensure these courageous efforts
>are not wasted.

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