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2019 Posture Statement to Congress

​Navy Adm. Craig S. Faller, commander of U.S. Southern Command, testified Feb. 7, 2019, 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.

Marine Corps Gen. Thomas D. Waldhauser, U.S. Africa Command commander, and Navy Adm. Craig Faller, U.S. Southern Command commander, speak before the Senate Armed Services Committee Feb. 7, 2019.




Adm. Faller on Regional Linkages

“We're connected to the nations in Latin American and Caribbean by history, culture and geography.

We're connected in every domain, sea, air, space and cyber and land. Our security and prosperity are inextricably linked. When our neighbors succeed, we succeed, and when our neighbors are threatened, we are threatened. Our partnerships in this region are critical to the layered defense of our homeland and to our collective ability to meet complex global challenges.

Ultimately, we want enemies to fear us, friends to partner with us, and the Western Hemisphere to shine as a beacon of peace, prosperity and potential.”

Adm. Faller on Security Challenges in Latin America and the Caribbean

“Over the past two months I've traveled to Colombia, Trinidad and Tobago, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador to get a first-hand view of the opportunities and challenges that directly impact the security of this hemisphere.

Criminal organizations, narco-traffickers, illegal immigration, violent extremists, corruption and weak governments are principal among those challenges. The most disturbing insight, however, has been the degree to which external state actors, especially Russia, China and Iran, are expanding their influence in the Western Hemisphere. Russia, in particular, enables actions in Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba that threaten hemispheric security and prosperity. And as a leading state sponsor of terrorism in the world, Iran's activities in this hemisphere are concerning.”

Adm. Faller on Importance of Partnerships in Latin America and the Caribbean

“Building strong partnerships is the best way to counter threats and turn the challenges of our hemisphere into opportunities. In this hemisphere, our neighborhood, a little goes a long way. We need the right, focused, consistent military education and presence. We cannot achieve positive results and influence outcomes without being on the playing field.”

Adm. Faller on Crisis in Venezuela

“The situation in Venezuela is dire. Maduro's illegitimate government starves its people by using food as a weapon while corrupt generals are rewarded with money from illegal drug trafficking, oil profits and businesses, all at the expense of the population and other--and the rank and file military. Migration out of Venezuela is now over 300 million, creating a crisis for our friends in Colombia, Brazil, Ecuador and Peru. While Russia and Cuba and China prop up the Maduro dictatorship, the remainder of the world has united.

SOUTHCOM is supporting diplomatic efforts, and we are prepared to protect U.S. personnel and diplomatic facilities, if necessary.
I saw firsthand the impacts of this humanitarian crisis in Venezuela when I visited the United States naval ship, Comfort. The solidarity and compassion displayed by Comfort's international medical team made a lasting difference in the lives of thousands. The United States of America provided Comfort as part of our enduring promise to the hemisphere, while Russia flew nuclear capable bombers. Who would you want as your friend, and who would you trust?”

“Venezuela has about 2,000 generals, more than all of NATO combined, and the majority of them are on the payroll of Maduro via illicit drug trafficking and corrupt businesses and that's what he's using to buy their loyalty and their protection. In addition, Cuba, as I mentioned in my opening statement, pretty much owns the security around Maduro and is deeply entrenched in the intelligence service.”

Adm. Faller on Human Rights

“During my recent trip, senator, I emphasized professionalism as the key to being the legitimate force in professionalism. A big part of that is human rights -- and it's like blood running through your veins. If you're not legitimate to your people, you're not going to have a force that is going to ultimately secure that population.

We had those discussions with all the leaders of this countries, the chiefs of their defense, and we have a human rights team that goes in there and performs workshops. Part of the steps that must be taken by the embassy and our country teams to certify the deliverance of those aides includes a certification that they are going to go to vetted forces and forces that have complied. So we're looking at that every day, Senator. It's very important to our efforts.”

Adm. Faller on Contributions of National Guard’s State Partnership Program

“It's one of our main efforts. They bring a lasting, long relationship to the state… It really helps us build capacity. They go in there and they work on the mil-to-mil engagement. They also work on civil projects where they'll go we'll build a school, dig a well and things other things that we need to help stabilize the conditions for the citizens.”

Adm. Faller on Capabilities of Narco-Traffickers

“They are very nimble and they are agile and, in many cases, better funded than the security forces they face. So they adapt. We are seeing them go further out to sea, as far out into the Pacific as around the Galapagos and up. We are seeing them integrate with fishing vessels in a different manner. We are seeing them with lower-profile vessels including some submerged vessels.

In the air we are seeing them use Venezuela as a launch point to fly out of Venezuela. So cross-border traffic, if you will, using Venezuela's current state as a launch point up through the middle of the Caribbean and then into remote airfields throughout Central America. And so as they adapt. We adapt, but they adapt faster and they have more flexible resources and so we are trying to get after it. But it's a challenge.”

Adm. Faller on Presence of Hezbollah in Latin America

“Hezbollah is present. We watch them closely. It points to the importance of partnerships in the intelligence-sharing relationships that we are keen to develop and strengthen even further because a lot of the--what's required to monitor them is human intelligence. Hezbollah's connection to Iran can never be understated.”

“Iran is the largest sponsor of state terrorism in the world. There is a nexus there that goes back, and we watch that working partnership with the other combatant commands, Defense Intelligence Agency, very, very closely. We look for trends, indications, and warning. A terror threat anywhere around the world could be a threat of our homeland.”

Adm. Faller on China’s Influence in Latin America and the Caribbean

“I've cautioned the leaders that I've met with that while you might want to do that, if you leverage your ports and many of your businesses, including your IT infrastructure, to Chinese companies with no strings attached and limited understanding of what the internal workings are, that you've actually put yourself in jeopardy of having a meaningful security relationship with us. It gets to a point where I won't be allowed or authorized to share information because I just don't know where that information is going. So been very emphatic about that in terms of how it would affect us being a partner of choice. This is my concern to the other questions that have been asked about what this hemisphere looks like 10, 15, 25 years from now and who the partner of choice is.”