NOTE: This is an update to the original June 2 posting titled "Gen. Kelly visits Honduras, meets with top leaders."
TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras (June 2, 2014) -- Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez (right front) speaks to U.S. Marine Corps Gen. John F. Kelly,commander of the U.S. Southern Command (left front), during a meeting at the Honduran Presidential Palace. Kelly, seated next to U.S. Ambassador to Honduras Lisa Kubiske, met with the Honduran president and the nation's National Security Council to discuss security cooperation and counter narcotics efforts. (Photo courtesy of Casa Presidencial de Honduras)
MIAMI – U.S. Marine Corps Gen. John F. Kelly, commander of U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), visited Honduras earlier this week and met with the Honduran president and top national security officials.
During a meeting at the Honduran Presidential Palace June 2, Kelly and U.S. Ambassador to Honduras Lisa Kubiske met with Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez and the nation's National Security Council to discuss security cooperation and counter narcotics efforts.
Kelly and the Honduran leaders spoke about continued U.S. military support to the government Honduras, which is grappling with transnational criminal organizations and the associated drug and illicit trafficking activities that have brought widespread violence to the Central American nation.
U.S. military support falls under the U.S. Government's comprehensive assistance to Honduras known as the Central American Regional Security Initiative (CARSI).
In a released statement following the discussions, Kelly said SOUTHCOM will continue to support Operation Morazan, the Honduran mission launched earlier this year that is seeing police and military units fighting against drug trafficking, organized crime and money laundering.
Kelly stated that support will continue “in the maritime and land domains” and that SOUTHCOM will increase “efforts to reduce the amount of illicit trafficking into and around Honduras, and make the country and region less hospitable to transnational criminal networks.”
“We have also offered to expand opportunities for exercises and training -- including training and engagements focused on human rights -- to increase the capacity of the Honduran military to confront criminal networks,” Kelly said in the statement.
As SOUTHCOM’s commander, Kelly oversees all U.S. military operations and engagements in Central and South America and the Caribbean.
U.S. military support and cooperation with Honduras focuses on combating transnational threats, organized crime and drug trafficking; offering humanitarian assistance projects and training; strengthening and coordinating disaster response capabilities; and participation in bilateral and multinational training exercises with the Honduran military.
The U.S. military also has a presence in Honduras. Joint Task Force-Bravo, under the command of SOUTHCOM, has been operating out of the Honduran Soto Cano Air Base since the mid-1980s. Joint Task Force-Bravo operates a forward, all-weather day and night C-5-capable airbase. The task force organizes multilateral exercises and supports, in cooperation with partner nations, humanitarian and civic assistance, counter drug, contingency and disaster relief operations in Central America.
This was Kelly’s second visit to Honduras in 2014. He previously visited Honduras in February.