2018 Posture Statement to Congress
Navy Adm. Kurt W. Tidd, commander of U.S. Southern Command, testified Feb. 15, 2018, before the Senate Armed Services Committee as part of the command’s annual Posture Statement to Congress. This page provides information, multimedia resources, documents and testimony excerpts.
Air Force Gen. Lori J. Robinson, commander of North American Air Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command, and Navy Adm. Kurt W. Tidd, commander of U.S. Southern Command, testify at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the defense authorization request for fiscal year 2019 and the Future Years Defense Program, Feb. 15, 2018.
DOCUMENTS & RESOURCES
DoD News: Southcom Commander: Modest Investments Needed to Build Security Network
Tidd on Counterterrorism Efforts in the Region
"Criminal and extremist networks continue to threaten regional stability and our national security. We know of specific cases of individuals who were involved in plots to attack our homeland or our partners. Fortunately, they were stopped, but this remains a significant, persistent concern."
Tidd on External Influence in Latin America
"Competitors like China and Russia seek to exploit the perception that we are disengaging from the Americas, and as they succeed in their efforts -- comes an increased ability for them to interfere with our security relationships and to hold our interests at risk.
These challenges are less overt and sometimes more insidious than in other theaters. They are manageable with modest investment, sufficient attention and early engagement. For SOUTHCOM, that involves tools that strengthen relationships and build capacity.
Now, we're not talking about brigade combat teams or aircraft carriers in our theater. We're talking about small teams of general purpose and special operations forces to maintain critical training engagements. We're talking about medium-endurance ships with embarked helicopters, and particularly those that are interoperable with our partners, and with enough awareness to buy down risk against problems early and stop threats at their source, before they become more costly.
… Iran also is present. Particularly worrisome is their proxy, Hezbollah, which is an area that we've been watching for many, many years, and is an item of concern."
Tidd on China Military Engagement in Latin America
"I've long felt that the IMET program is probably our single greatest long-term investment value for the dollar that we put into it. And I would just highlight that it is an investment that sometimes may take two decades or more to pay off, but when it pays off, it pays off with relationships with strategic partners that are absolutely critical. It creates the personal contacts that many of the military leaders from across the region that I work with on a day-to-day basis have participated in the IMET program, have studied at our war colleges, gone to our service schools.
China watches that very closely. They've recognized the value of that strategic investment. And so they basically have taken a leaf out of our book, and they are very lavishly funding to bring senior military officers from a variety of key countries around our region to China for very lavishly expensed, all-expense-paid trips for them, for their families, to be able to live a very high lifestyle in the countries."
Tidd on Russia Influence in Region
"[Russia continues] to engage in a direct competition for influence with some of our key partners around the region.
Our challenge is to be able to disprove the false narrative that Russia peddles in the region that the United States is withdrawing, that we are not a reliable partner. And so many of the actions that we engage in are directly intended to show our partners, who are very much interested in working [with] us, that we -- in fact share common interests. We certainly share common democratic values and principles, which Russia -- neither Russia nor China -- share."
Tidd on Hezbollah in Latin America
"We've been watching Hezbollah for a number of decades now, because, as you well recognize, they have been in this hemisphere for a while, engaged largely in criminal activities supporting their terrorists activities abroad.
They are the A team that has been mentioned from time to time. And so we're watching what they're doing, working with our partners within the intelligence community, within our country teams, and then increasingly with partner nations to be aware of what they're doing and to not be surprised."
Tidd on the Importance of the U.S. Coast Guard to SOUTHCOM maritime missions
"I've said before on a number of occasions, in the U.S. SOUTHCOM region, my maritime force has white hulls and orange stripes. And, frankly, if it were not for the United States Coast Guard and the -- and the significant effort by the commandant, we would not have a maritime presence.
That's not because the -- my parent service to the United States Navy is not -- doesn't recognize -- the very significant importance of the region. It is just a matter of strategic priorities and availability of forces, and we run out of mission -- excuse me. We run out of forces before we run out of mission.
The Coast Guard cutters that -- that have been participating are irreplaceable. The national security cutters -- terrific, when we get them. But the real workhorse, the -- you know, the "cop on the beat" vessels are those medium-endurance cutters, many of which are past 30 years in age. Some were built in the 1960s. And so the recapitalization of those medium-endurance cutters with the offshore patrol cutters, I view as extremely important to U.S. SOUTHCOM 's ability to provide an adequate maritime presence in our region."
Tidd on the Impact of the Venezuela Crisis on the Region
"I think that the fact that it is a matter of very significant concern to the nations that neighbor Venezuela is probably the most important piece to point out.
As we have seen, the impact on Venezuelans, who are fleeing the absolutely abominable economic conditions in the country, puts a severe burden on the school systems, medical systems, the social support infrastructures particularly of Colombia, where over 500,000 Venezuelans have now entered Colombia. It's putting an increasingly growing strain on Brazil, where we've seen tens of thousands that have come across.
But it also places a significant burden on Guyana, on countries like Curacao and Aruba, as well as Trinidad and Tobago. So it is having a very significant impact on those countries, and those countries recognize that they are going to have to be able to deal with this humanitarian crisis."
Tidd on the Limits of Maritime Interdiction Capabilities
"We have pretty good situational awareness on an awful lot of the traffic that is -- trafficking that is occurring. And that's based on very close partnership with a variety of countries in the region, most notably, with Colombia. Of the known tracks that we are aware of -- and we think we've got a pretty good handle -- we are only able to intercept about 25 percent, about one quarter."
Tidd on the Opioid Crisis
"This is a crisis that has come to touch us all personally. And so the challenges that we face is that -- how do you handle it? How do you deal with it?
What became clear at our conference last week was the United States Department of Defense can't solve this problem on its own. The Department of Homeland Security can't solve this problem on its own. Health and Human Services can't solve on its own. It will only be through all of us working together in a collaborate manner.
That's why our approach at U.S. SOUTHCOM is to apply a threat network-based approach. And we see -- that's our number one priority -- is threat networks.
… There is no single silver bullet that's going to solve this problem. This is going to take the very best efforts across the entire national security team to be able to work together effectively."
Tidd on Detainee Operations at Joint Task Force-Guantanamo
"As has been the case, our responsibility is to ensure the safe, secure, legal detention of law of war detainees. I'm highly confident that we have been doing that, and we will continue to do that.
You know, we have 41 detainees who are there right now. We're prepared to receive more, should they be directed in to us. As of today, we have not been given a warning order that new detainees might be heading in our direction, but our responsibility will be to integrate them in -- effectively in to that mission."
Tidd on the Role of Partners in Countering Threat Networks
"Partners like Colombia have been absolutely irreplaceable -- their willingness to work with us, to share information with us, to be partners, not just within Colombia , but also working side by side with Central American neighbors to help them build their capacity to be able to deal with, track down, apply pressure on and disrupt these threat networks.
I would highlight the terrific work that has been going on, that General Robinson and all of her work with the Armed Forces of Mexico, SEDENA and SEMAR. Mexico is now exerting, I think, a significant interest in helping to improve security in Central America. And so we work together in partnership, NORTHCOM and SOUTHCOM , together, to facilitate that particular type of activity.
Many other partners throughout the region -- we've got capable partners. I would highlight a few, and just working around the continent, Brazil ; Argentina has now come on strong and played a critical role. Chile has, for many years, been one of the premier security partners in the region. Peru is now a very significant partner. And again, I come to Colombia as probably our single most significant strategic partner in the region."