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Building Partner Capacity | Supporting Our Partners

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.

Military personnel gather in a group for a briefing.

WATERS OFF THE COAST OF BRAZIL (Aug. 24, 2019) – Members of Brazilian, Ecuadorian, and United States Coast Guard special forces gather after a training exercise in the hanger bay of the Brazilian amphibious assault ship PHM Atlantico (A 140) in support of UNITAS, August 24, 2019. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ian Parham)

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Building Partner Capacity Explained

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.

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: Tradewinds  |  Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI)  |  Caribbean 2020: U.S. Strategy for Engagement in the Caribbean

Central America

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: U.S. Strategy for Central America

See more: Operation Martillo


We are supporting Colombia as they share their military expertise and capabilities with partner nations to support regional security efforts in Central America. 


We support planning related to counterterrorism efforts against Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path).

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.

Training Exercises

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.  

Recent Exercises and Training Engagements

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.

Global Health Engagement

SOUTHCOM provides direct support to the training and readiness of partner nations' military and civilian health systems through Global Health Engagements across Latin America and the Caribbean. We help build capacity in military health service support; force health protection; disaster preparedness and response; health surveillance; medical research and development; and detection, prevention and response to disease threats.