MIAMI (Sept. 1, 2022) -- The commander of U.S. Southern Command, U.S. Army Gen. Laura Richardson, completed a 4-day visit to Guyana and Suriname where she met with senior leaders to reaffirm U.S. support of the security partnership with each nation.
The trips to Guyana and Suriname marked the first time Richardson had visited each nation since assuming command last year. SOUTHCOM’s Civilian Deputy to the Commander, Amb. Jean Manes, and Senior Enlisted Leader, U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. Benjamin Jones, accompanied Richardson during the Aug. 29 – Sept. 1 trip.
Guyana, Aug. 29 - 30
In Guyana, Richardson’s Aug. 30 meeting with President Dr. Irfaan Ali highlighted the visit to the South American nation. During the meeting, both leaders discussed strengthening ties between the United States and Guyana.
The general also met with Guyana Defence Force Chief of Staff Brigadier Godfrey Bess to discuss enhancing the bilateral defense partnership and expanding cooperation to support mutual security goals, address cross-cutting threats, and contribute to regional stability.
Also on Aug. 30, Richardson joined U.S. Ambassador to Guyana, Sarah-Ann Lynch, Guyana First Lady Arya Ali, Guyanese Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards, Jamaica Defence Force Chief of Defence Staff, Rear Adm. Antonette Wemyss-Gorman, and more than 100 service members from 13 nations for a Guyana-led conference focused on implementation of the Women, Peace, and Security initiative. The regional conference, hosted by Guyana and the Florida National Guard, was a venue for senior leaders to engage with service members of all ranks and share experiences and views on advancing the role of women in defense and public security sectors.
The United States and Guyana enjoy a longstanding security partnership, and the country is a key contributor to regional security efforts. In 2021, the Guyana Defence Force hosted forces from 12 nations for the SOUTHCOM-sponsored multinational training exercise, Tradewinds 2021, and will host the 2023 iteration of the exercise next year in June. Guyana also supports regional humanitarian assistance and disaster preparedness efforts and conducts routine training with the Florida National Guard under the U.S. National Guard’s State Partnership Program.
Suriname, Aug. 30 – Sept. 1
In Suriname, Richardson met with security leaders to discuss expanding security cooperation between both nations.
On Aug. 31, the general met with Minister of Defense Krishna Mathoera and the Commander of the Suriname Armed Forces, Lt. Col. Werner Kioe A Sen, to discuss supporting and strengthening the longstanding security ties between the United States and Suriname.
Later, Richardson, Manes and Jones joined U.S. Ambassador to Suriname Karen L. Williams to engage with Mathoera and more than 60 Suriname service members during a session focused on the Women, Peace, and Security initiative. During the engagement, the leaders spent time with service members to discuss advancing the meaningful inclusion of women in security and defense roles.
Also, on the 31st, Richardson visited Suriname’s National Coordination Center for Disaster Relief and met with leadership and staff to discuss coordination for regional disaster preparedness and response.
Richardson and Jones visited the Surinamese Military Academy to spent time with leaders, students and staff and take part in a donation of books to the academy.
Suriname is a key contributor to regional security. Suriname’s security partnership with the United States includes participation in regional exercises, most recently the Tradewinds 2022 exercise that focused on Caribbean security. Suriname forces also conduct engagement and training with the South Dakota National Guard as part of the State Partnership Program and support regional counter narcotics efforts that contribute to regional security.