WASHINGTON, March 10, 2016 —
In his first 60 days leading U.S. Southern Command, Navy Adm. Kurt W. Tidd has visited various nations in his area of responsibility to discuss stability, security and future cooperation with military leaders and other regional officials, the Southcom commander said today.
Tidd briefed Pentagon reporters following his testimony on the command’s posture before the Senate Armed Forces Committee.
“I was very encouraged by the committee’s interest in our mission and the nations we partner with,” the admiral said, adding that security challenges that affect his command’s missions were among the topics at the hearing.
Southcom’s area of responsibility includes the land mass of Latin America south of Mexico, the waters adjacent to Central and South America and the Caribbean Sea.
“While security is essential to the region’s stability,” the admiral said, “Southcom plays an equally vital role supporting the diplomatic, development and law enforcement activities that serve as pillars for our nation’s partnerships in [that] hemisphere.”
Tidd noted that he also has met recently with leadership of the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Agency, the Homeland Security Department, the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development to discuss “critical, combined efforts” in the drug interdiction mission.
Visiting Nations’ Leaders
In his meetings with military, government and public security leaders in the Caribbean and in Central and South America, Tidd said, “I wanted to hear their views, concerns, interests, express [Southcom’s] continued commitment and discuss the way ahead for regional security cooperation.”
Central America’s northern-tier countries are among his priorities, he added.
The admiral said he spoke with his military counterparts in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador on how Southcom can help improve security there, and that he also talked with embassy staffs about Southcom complementing U.S. support to the Alliance for Prosperity in the Northern Triangle.
Tidd said the first country he visited after taking command Jan. 14 was Colombia, which recently celebrated the 15th anniversary of Plan Columbia, a U.S. military and diplomacy initiative to combat drug cartels there.
“It’s remarkable to see how far this country has come … but it’s not surprising when you consider how courageous, steadfast and committed the Colombian people are to defending their representative government,” he said. “We will remain committed to Colombia and their continued efforts.”
Early next month, Tidd, said, he expects to join Central American defense security leaders for a similar conference.
Visiting Southcom’s component commands and subordinate task forces was high on his list to do early on, he said, and he has visited Joint Task Force Guantanamo Bay in Cuba twice.
“I wanted troops and leadership to know how much I value how much they do for Southcom, our country and the Americas,” Tidd said.
(Follow Terri Moon Cronk on Twitter: @MoonCronkDoD)