2016 Posture Statement to Congress

​The commander of U.S. Southern Command, Navy Adm. Kurt W. Tidd, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee March 10, 2016, as part of the command’s annual Posture Statement to Congress. This page provides information, multimedia resources, documents and testimony excerpts.

Navy Adm. Cecil D. Haney, commander of U.S. Strategic Command; Navy Adm. William E. Gortney, commander of U.S. Northern Command and commander of North American Aerospace Defense Command; and Navy Adm. Kurt W. Tidd, commander of U.S. Southern Command, testify at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on defense posture, March 10, 2016.

Documents and Info

Testimony Excerpts

Adm. Tidd on partnership with Colombia

"As has already been recognized, this committee knows well Colombia's transformation has been remarkable. Once on the brink of failure, Colombia is now on the brink of peace. But the hardest work lies ahead: extending government influence into dangerous criminal-controlled territory, confronting the persistent threat of cocaine production and trafficking; and above all, securing a just peace that will end more than 50 years of conflict.

With the blood and treasure that they have already sacrificed, with all that they continue to do to export security across the region, the Colombian people have more than earned our sustained support."

Adm. Tidd on support to Central American partners

"As we recognized during the 2014 migrant crisis, what happens on the streets of San Salvador and Tegucigalpa has a direct impact on the streets of Tucson and Providence.

Our Central American partners are doing all they can to win their countries back from vicious gangs and narco-traffickers, but they cannot do it alone. And because we remain the number one world's consumer of illicit drugs, we owe it to them to do our part."

Adm. Tidd on the threat of transnational criminal organizations

  • "Global networks are the biggest threat that we face in our region. No two networks are alike. Some are international criminal enterprises focused on transporting any illicit cargo for the right price. Others are small operations that smuggle desperate migrants. Still others support terrorist organizations through financing and through the spread of their violent extremist ideology. No matter the motivation of these groups, though, all of them have a corrosive effect on the stability and the security of every country that they infect, including our own."

  • "The adversary that we're dealing with is very flexible, very agile, and it's like squeezing a balloon. When we squeeze in one place if we are not able to apply pressure across the entire breadth of the network they will adapt and move to the area that they think they can get in. So as we have had some success working with our Honduran partners, as they have been able to get out and apply greater pressure, in areas that previously had been denied to them, we're seeing the drug traffickers are moving the landing points for where the drugs are coming ashore in Central America to different countries."

Adm. Tidd on detention operations at Joint Task Force-Guantanamo

"We conduct the most principled, humane detention operations anywhere in the world, and we will continue to do so until the very last detainee steps on an airplane and departs the island. I know this committee shares my enormous pride in the men and women who serve in this demanding, sensitive and often thankless mission with honor and with the utmost discipline, professionalism and integrity.

They are every bit as engaged in the war and every bit as deserving of our thanks and praise when they return home, just as their brothers and sisters who have returned home from Iraq and Afghanistan. And I thank very much your recognition of the hard work that they do."

Adm. Tidd on available DoD resources for counter trafficking missions

  • "I do not have the ships, I do not have the aircraft, to be able to execute the detection-monitoring mission to the level that has been established for us to achieve."

  • "... What I'd like to do is thank the exceptional efforts of the Congress to provide additional resources as they came available for us to be able to increase the resources that we do have. We've been able to apply those resources very quickly in some new ways and to be able to take advantage of some nontraditional capabilities to increase our ability to see the movement and things that are going on -- it still only gives us glimpses. We're not able to maintain a persistent view of activities going on in the theater. As you rightly point out our ability to interdict is extremely limited. The number of surface ships largely provided by the U.S. Coast Guard, but the U.S. Navy also provides some limited capability as well, but even that -- it's not enough for us to be able to deal with the -- what we're able to see. We try to mitigate that by increasing the capability of our partner nations, and the development that we've been able to do in their intercept capability and interdiction capability has made a significant improvement. As it stands right now about half of the interdictions that occur with the help of partner nations."

  • "On a given day, on average, we tend to have between five and six surface ships, those are largely Coast Guard cutters, one to two U.S. Navy platforms. The established requirement in order to interdict at the established target level of 40 percent is up to 21 surface platforms. So it's a question resources and allocation of resources and priorities across all of the threats the country faces -- is I don't question that. I understand it, I was involved in it, but it is simply a matter of resources."

Adm. Tidd on Russian activity in Latin America and the Caribbean

"Russia, which arguably has virtually no strategic interests of note in the southern region, is engaged in a direct competition to displace the United States for influence within the region. They are going back in and redeveloping the historical contacts that they had with a number of countries throughout the region, developing weapons sales at extremely low rates, at low costs. And what gives us great concern is they are engaging in a concerted effort to convince partners that the United States is not a reliable ally, that we are withdrawing from the region.

And so essentially any steps that plays into that narrative, that makes it look like the United States does not provide the forces or is shrinking down the presence of the -- of the United States or consolidating, to get at slightly at Senator King's point that consolidating combat commanders simply plays into that false narrative that the United States is not interested in the region."

Adm. Tidd on Iranian, Hezbollah influence in Latin America and the Caribbean

"With -- specifically with regard to Iran, there has been a longstanding presence of Hezbollah, one of the principal surrogates of Iran, in the region. Their activities have largely been involved in logistics support, providing funds back to Lebanon to Hezbollah itself. But it also is available as a potential to conduct other activities.

It's a force in being, obviously, and they watch very closely what -- we watch very closely what they are doing, where they are.

What makes it particularly noteworthy is there are not large implantations within Central and South America of Muslim communities. They tend to be very small. And so this interest on the part of Iran is in developing partnerships, relationships in order to escape the diplomatic isolation that they've found themselves in over the last decade -- couple of decades."

Adm. Tidd on Islamic extremist groups in Latin America and the Caribbean

The greater concern that we're beginning to see now is on the part of Islamist extremist groups. There is now a general recognition throughout the region. In meeting with senior security chiefs from across the Caribbean in particular, but also Central American countries, they recognize the risk of radicalization -- self-radicalization occurring within their countries.

There have already been a number of fighters that have gone over to Iraq and Syria to fight. We have seen indications there have been a number of them that have been killed. I think we all saw the video of the 14-year-old from Trinidad and Tobago that was videotaped engaged in a act of terrorism, executing a Syrian combatant.