News | April 22, 2021

SOUTHCOM Commander Visits Dominican Republic, Takes Part in Caribbean Security Conference

By SOUTHCOM Public Affairs

U.S. Navy Adm. Craig Faller, commander of U.S. Southern Command, visited the Dominican Republic April 20-22 where he joined national leaders during several bilateral events and took part in a regional conference focused on Caribbean security.

The admiral’s visit reaffirmed the commitment of the United States to continue working with the Dominican Republic – and all Caribbean partners -- to advance security cooperation and enhance preparedness for disaster response in the region.

Faller’s visit included a meeting with Vice President Raquel Peña, the closing ceremony of Operation Kraken, an announcement of the U.S. donation of three mobile hospitals and two operations centers, and participation in the Caribbean Nations Security Conference (CANSEC 2021).

The SOUTHCOM delegation included Civilian Deputy to the Commander, Amb. Jean Manes, and Command Sgt. Maj. Benjamin Jones.

Operation Kraken Closing Ceremony

On his first stop of the trip April 20, Faller joined Dominican military leaders for the closing ceremony of Operation Kraken, where Joint Inter-Agency Task Force-South and the Dominican Republic Navy disrupted narco-traffickers. The operation involved the U.S. Multi-Mission Support Vessel Kellie Chouest with embarked maritime security personnel from the Dominican Republic and Dominican interceptor crews.

Operating from the vessel, the Dominican interceptor crews increased their operating range at sea by up to 300%, denying transnational criminal organizations access to sea lanes in their waters. 

Humanitarian Assistance Donation to Dominican Republic

Later on the 20th, Faller joined Dominican leaders for a tour the nation’s Emergency Operations Center. During the tour, Faller, on behalf of the U.S. Government, announced the donation of three mobile hospitals and two operations centers that will increase the capacity of the Dominican government to rapidly deploy personnel and medical equipment and offer emergency assistance during disaster response operations or health crises. 

“This ceremony highlights the strong relationship between the United States and the Dominican Republic in the fight against COVID-19,” said Faller.

Vice President Peña, who received the donations on behalf of the Dominican Government said: “Through the United States Southern Command, the U.S. Government, our nation's historical ally, offers once again a helping hand in our mission to preserve the well-being of the Dominican people.” 

The donation was part of the command’s Humanitarian Assistance Program (HAP), which previously donated two mobile hospitals to the country in September 2020, along with eight ventilators, personal protective equipment and syringes.

Meeting with Vice President Raquel Peña and Security Leaders

Following the donation ceremony, the admiral met with Peña to discuss security cooperation.

Both leaders discussed areas of mutual cooperation, including counter-narcotics operations, the ongoing response to the global pandemic, disaster preparedness, the advancement of women in peace and security missions, and U.S.-hosted military education and training.

Faller also met with Dominican Minister of Defense Lt. Gen. Carlos Luciano Díaz Morfa; and Dominican director of the Emergency Operations Center (COE), Maj. Gen. (R) Dr. Juan Manuel Méndez.

CANSEC 2021

CANSEC, co-hosted by the Dominican Republic, was held April 21 and 22 and included security leaders from the Caribbean and allied nations.

CANSEC is sponsored annually by U.S. Southern Command and facilitates a dialogue among Caribbean defense and public-security leaders to strengthen ties, discuss regional issues, examine challenges, share successes and lessons learned, and explore ways to enhance security cooperation and build on prior successes.

During CANSEC 21, the leaders discussed counter transnational criminal organizations operations and regional response efforts for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations in a COVID- 19 environment.

“The Caribbean is a vital, important region to all of us and to the United States. SOUTHCOM and the U.S. government stand ready to work with you. We want, and will continue to be, your trusted partner,” said Faller.

“As democracies, we share the same values,” said Faller. “But we’re also connected by the common threats. We must work together to keep our region, our neighborhood, our homes, and our future generations safe.”

The Dominican Republic and the United States last co-hosted CANSEC in 2014.

Discussion on International Military Education (IMET) and Women, Peace and Security

At the end of the first day of the trip, Faller and Manes took part in a roundtable with Dominican military personnel who have attended education and training courses at U.S. Department of Defense schools and academic institutions through the U.S. State Department Bureau of Political-Military Affairs’ International Military Education and Training (IMET) program.

The roundtable also included women currently serving in the Dominican Republic’s Armed Forces. During the roundtable Faller and Manes talked with service members about their professional experiences, and listened to their viewpoints and ideas. Faller and Manes have prioritized holding similar roundtables during the admiral’s recent trips in other countries as part of an effort to highlight how important IMET and the integration of women in peace and security missions are to regional security.

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