Counter Threats

U.S. Southern Command will increase cooperation and information sharing with allies and partners to understand and counter threats from transnational criminal organizations, violent extremist organizations, and malign regional and external state actors.

U.S., Brazilian, Chilean, Colombian, Mexican and Peruvian Marines and members of the Jamaican Defense Force utilize a combat rubber raiding craft, at sea, during an amphibious training evolution at the Base de Infanteria de Marina, Peru, Sept. 27, 2021, during exercise UNITAS LXII.
U.S., Brazilian, Chilean, Colombian, Mexican and Peruvian Marines and members of the Jamaican Defense Force utilize a combat rubber raiding craft, at sea, during an amphibious training evolution at the Base de Infanteria de Marina, Peru, Sept. 27, 2021, during exercise UNITAS LXII. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Adaezia Chavez)

Countering Threats Priorities

Malign regional and external state actors. We will work with our Partner Nations to expose, deter, and degrade malign activity in our neighborhood, mitigating the threats MSAs pose to a free and stable Western Hemisphere that is respectful of international norms, freedoms, and collective peace, security and prosperity. Globally and regionally, both the People's Republic of China and Russia seek to change the status quo using coercive gray zone methods below the threshold of armed conflict. We will support the U.S. interagency-led efforts to contain and reverse the growth of the People's Republic of China from establishing access, presence, and influence in Latin America and the Caribbean. This includes securing U.S. access to key sea lines of communication: the Panama Canal and the Strait of Magellan. We will expose the predatory economic policies and exploitative practices that the People's Republic of China implements to exert political leverage to gain access and influence. This includes illuminating the People's Republic of China's dual-use facilities, infrastructure projects, “safe city” initiatives, resource extraction, space domain access, and other areas that enhance its global reach, access, and influence. We will continue to work with Allies and Partners to mitigate the malign activities of Russia, Iran, and regional malign actor regimes in Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua.

Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCOs) and Violent Extremist Organizations (VEOs). In support of Partner Nations confronting both TCOs and VEOs, we will align and integrate our efforts with the U.S. interagency and Partner Nations to disrupt illegal drug supply chains and other illicit trafficking. We will degrade TCO and VEO networks that create conditions for MSAs to exploit and undermine Partner Nation stability and security. Disruption of these illicit activities hinders TCO and VEO financing through international markets. With our partners on the frontline, we will complement their OAIs through security cooperation activities and operational support in addition to the U.S. led and partnered operations directly against TCO and VEO networks and supply chains.

Climate Change and Transboundary Challenges. We will support and engage with U.S. Government, non-governmental organizations, Allies, and Partner Nation efforts to increase regional resilience and Partner Nation capacity needed to mitigate the effects of transboundary challenges: the effects of climate change and natural disasters, the illegal extraction of natural resources, irregular migration, and food and water insecurity. We will maintain the ability to rapidly respond to crises and work to enhance the ability of Partner Nations to independently lead and contribute to humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HA/DR) efforts. We will support Partner Nation and U.S. interagency efforts to disrupt the illegal extraction of natural resources that provide additional means to illicit networks and contributes to environmental degradation throughout the area of responsibility.

Our Efforts & Missions to Counter Threats 

A Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf boarding team aboard an Over the Horizon Long-Range Interceptor boat conducts an interdiction of a self-propelled semi-submersible vessel suspected of smuggling 7.5 tons of cocaine in the Eastern Pacific Ocean, Aug. 31, 2015. The seized contraband is worth an estimated $227 million. (U.S. Coast Guard photo) Countering Transnational Criminal Organizations

Illicit trafficking networks pose complex transnational threats to the stability of Latin America and the Caribbean and to U.S. public health and national security.  Well-resourced organized crime groups move drugs, weapons, counterfeit items, money and people on these networks. This insidious web of crime threatens citizen security, undermines basic human rights, cripples the rule of law through corruption, erodes good governance, and hinders economic development. The U.S. military works with federal agencies and partners in the region to counter these threats.



Links to Operation Martillo pageCampaign Martillo

​Campaign Martillo (Hammer) is a U.S., European, and Western Hemisphere effort targeting illicit trafficking routes in coastal waters along the Central American isthmus. U.S. military participation is led by Joint Interagency Task Force South, a component of U.S. Southern Command. The U.S. contribution to the operation includes U.S. Navy and Coast Guard vessels, aircraft from U.S. federal law enforcement agencies, and military and law enforcement units from various nations working together to deny transnational criminal organizations the ability to exploit transshipment routes off Central America. 



Link to Cooperative Security Locations pageCooperative Security Locations

The U.S. military has two Cooperative Security Locations (CSLs), formerly known as Forward Operating Locations, in Latin America and the Caribbean.  The CSLs are strategic, cost-effective locations in Comalapa, El Salvador and Aruba-Curacao, formerly part of the Netherlands Antilles, which allow U.S. and partner nation aircraft the use of existing airfields to support the region’s multinational efforts to Combat Transnational Organized Crime.  The CSLs are the result of cooperative, long-term agreements between the United States and host nations.  


Military Information Support Operations

U.S. Southern Command, through its component commands and active engagements, conducts military information support operations throughout the Area of Responsibility, specifically; Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Panama, Peru and Trinidad and Tobago. These activities are designed to counter terrorist radicalization and recruitment efforts by terrorist organizations and criminal networks.