Active engagement with our neighbors in Central America, South America and the Caribbean contributes to regional and U.S. security. The U.S. military builds regional security through sustained engagement in order to deter adversaries, preserve stability, support allies and partners, and cooperate with others to address common security challenges.
A U.S. Army Soldier discusses crowd control and organization with two Salvadoran soldiers during the Beyond the Horizon El Salvador humanitarian exercise, May 11, 2015. (U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. Kim Browne, 366th MPAD)
U.S. Southern Command provides both strategic and operational support to assist partner nation militaries and security forces with planning, training, and equipment. Many of our support activities are aligned with the U.S. government’s contributions to regional security initiatives like the Central American Regional Security Initiative (CARSI), the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI), and the Colombian Strategic Development Initiative (CSDI).
Strengthening Partner Nation Security Capabilities
We seek to build the capabilities of regional militaries and security forces to confront internal challenges to stability, sovereignty, and security. We provide training and logistics support, share expertise and information and facilitate the transfer or procurement of equipment and technology.
The aim is a region where partner nations have self-sustaining capabilities to protect themselves and prevent regional instability. Major support efforts include:
Our engagement centers on space and the modernization of military capabilities.
We are supporting the development of a regional maritime interdiction strategy, as well as providing equipment and training to improve maritime and air domain awareness. See more on Secure Seas Program | Tradewinds | Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI).
We are providing training and security assistance to improve maritime, aerial, and land domain awareness capabilities, focusing on the Northern Tier countries (Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras) where the threat posed by transnational criminal organizations is greatest.
See more: Operation Martillo | State Department: Central American Regional Security Initiative (CARSI) | White House fact sheet: The United States and Central America: Honoring Our Commitments | White House fact sheet: Support for the Alliance for Prosperity in the Northern Triangle
We continue to support Colombia’s military and security forces as they work to thwart narco-terrorist activity in the country. Additionally, we are supporting Colombia as they share their military expertise and capabilities with partner nations to support regional security efforts in Central America. See more on Colombian Strategic Development Initiative (CSDI)
We support planning related to counterterrorism efforts against Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path). See more on U.S.-Peru security and defense cooperation.
Strengthening Humanitarian and Disaster Relief Capabilities
We work with partner nations to conduct low-cost humanitarian assistance programs and exercises that provide training to U.S. and partner nation personnel while providing humanitarian services to communities throughout the region. We also work throughout the region to bolster the capabilities of our partners to prepare for and respond to natural and man-made disasters.
To help mitigate costly disaster relief operations and strengthen state presence in under-governed areas, we conduct low-cost humanitarian assistance programs and exercises that provide training to U.S. and partner nation personnel and demonstrate U.S. values to the region.
We conduct annual multinational training exercises with our partners that focus primarily on maritime interdiction, defense of the Panama Canal, and training for peace support and disaster response operations. These exercises promote regional cooperation, enhance readiness and interoperability of our hemisphere’s military forces, and encourage collective action to address shared security challenges.
State Partnership Program
The U.S. National Guard's State Partnership Program (SPP) has been successfully building relationships with partner nation forces since 1993. Through SPP, the National Guard conducts military-to-military engagements to support defense and security cooperation around the world. In SOUTHCOM's Area of Responsibility, 17 U.S. states have active partnerships with defense and security forces from 26 nations in the Caribbean, Central America and South America.
Engagement: Educational and Professional Exchange Programs
Our engagement -- through security assistance programs such as Foreign Military Financing and International Military Education & Training, defense institution building programs like the Ministry of Defense Advisors Program and the Defense Institution Reform Initiative, Science and Technology programs, and the U.S. Southern Command-sponsored Human Rights Initiative -- helps partner nations increase security and professionalize their militaries and security forces while simultaneously increasing their ability to conduct peacekeeping, stability operations, and disaster relief operations.
Programs like the Inter-American Air Force Academy, the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, the Inter-American Defense College, the U.S. Naval Small Craft Instruction and Technical Training School and the Combating Terrorism Fellowship build relationships among future senior military leaders in the region. Additionally, the William J. Perry Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies helps strengthen regional defense institutions by promoting security sector reform. These entities are vital in helping our partner nations develop the accountable, professional, and transparent defense institutions that are key to long-term hemispheric security.