2019 Posture Statement to Congress

​Navy Adm. Craig S. Faller, commander of U.S. Southern Command, testified before the House Armed Services Committee in Washington, May 1, 2019. Faller previously testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee Feb. 7, 2019, as part of the command’s annual Posture Statement to Congress. This page provides information, multimedia resources, documents and testimony excerpts.

Navy Adm. Craig S. Faller, U.S. Southern Command commander; Air Force Gen. Terrance J. O’Shaughnessy, U.S. Northern Command commander; Kathryn Wheelbarger, acting assistant defense secretary for international security affairs; and Kenneth P. Rapuano, assistant defense secretary for homeland defense and global security, testify on national security challenges and U.S. military activity in North and South America at a hearing of the House Armed Services Committee in Washington, May 1, 2019. Part 1 of 2.
Navy Adm. Craig S. Faller, U.S. Southern Command commander; Air Force Gen. Terrance J. O’Shaughnessy, U.S. Northern Command commander; Kathryn Wheelbarger, acting assistant defense secretary for international security affairs; and Kenneth P. Rapuano, assistant defense secretary for homeland defense and global security, testify on national security challenges and U.S. military activity in North and South America at a hearing of the House Armed Services Committee in Washington, May 1, 2019. Part 2 of 2.
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 SOUTHCOM’s Interagency Partners

"To ensure the security of our homeland, SOUTHCOM works closely with our interagency teammates, the Department of State, USAID, Department of Homeland Security and Department of Justice, just to name a few. This teamwork, especially with Northern Command and the U.S. Coast Guard is critical to mission accomplishment."

Adm. Faller on Venezuela Crisis

“Every security challenge and threat in our hemisphere is compounded by the crisis in Venezuela. Russia provides lifelines through loans, technical and military support and rhetoric. China is Venezuela's single largest state creditor, saddling the Venezuela people with more than $50 billion in debt and exporting surveillance technology used to monitor and repress the Venezuelan people.

Iran and restarted direct flights from Tehran and reinvigorated diplomatic ties. Ever present Cuba provides critical personnel and resources to prop up a corrupt and illegitimate dictator. In the face of this malign influence, the rest of the world unites in support of Venezuela's legitimate leader, interim President Guido.”

Adm. Faller on Discussions with Partners on Venezuela Crisis

“Last week, I was in Colombia and the Colombian chief of defense and myself hosted a multinational border meeting with Peru, Ecuador, Brazil, and Colombia. We discussed the range of challenges that affect the region. Central to all of those was Venezuela and to the extent to which Venezuela complicates and magnifies every single problem that affects the region, and the extent to how these external state actors are meddling in a way that’s unhelpful to democracy. So, those discussions lead to coordinated calls for action.  And we’re all united, and we’re all standing firmly behind diplomacy and the need for this democratic process to work, and it will.”

Adm. Faller on Possible Humanitarian Support in Venezuela

“The complexity of the situation, the magnitude of the misery is going to require every element of international unity that currently exists to focus on the recovery of the economic infrastructure, the oil infrastructure, port facilities, electrical infrastructure that Maduro's ruined.

There are ongoing efforts to look at all aspects of this. At my headquarters, we call it 'day now' because there is going to be a day when the illegitimate government takes over and it's going to come when we least expect, and it could be right now. So, we're calling it 'day now' planning.”

Adm. Faller on Colombia as a Security Partner

Their military and security forces are making a difference and they are taking the attack to the narco-traffickers. They're taking it to the ELN, the FARC dissidents. The results that we'll see in eradication, a plateau in cocoa production, high interdiction rates -- these are going to have an impact on both the internal security of Colombia and the United States’ security. Very capable partner. I have the utmost trust in the Colombian armed forces and what they do as professionals and what they do in terms of their warfighting ability.”

Adm. Faller on Countering Illicit Traffickers in Latin America and the Caribbean

"The flow of those drugs, cocaine, principally from Colombia, heroin from Mexico, and then fentanyl from China and other sources, all mixed together in a concoction that's killing our citizens.

The Coast Guard's our number one partner. At our Joint Interagency Task Force-South in Key West, we have 20 partner nations and all elements of the U.S. Government laser focused on this across both the NORTHCOM and the SOUTHCOM boundaries because, as you know, sir, the drug traffickers know no seams. They exploit them.

The Coast Guard's presence any given day is six to eight Cutters.  And our Navy's now stepping up. This fall, we'll have a Littoral Combat Ship. But, keep in mind, we're talking about covering areas the size of the United States with -- from six to 10 ships. And so, the interdiction percentage with the current assets we have is about 6 percent of the detections. So, we need more ships. We need more intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance assets to include maritime patrol aircraft. The Navy's contributed two P-8s. The custom's borders protection has some P-3s in the hunt. And those are our critical needs."

Adm. Faller on Chinese Influence in the Western Hemisphere

"The National Defense Strategy rightly calls out China as a competitor. It's gone beyond that around the world, frankly.

We're in conflict with China in the information space and for the -- of the values and democracy. We see that in this hemisphere. Over 60 port projects.  That includes what we see in the NORTHCOM and SOUTHCOM; 56 in SOUTHCOM and the Caribbean. They've locked up big development areas, both sides of the Panama Canal, significant IT infrastructure investments. They have military dimensions to their involvement in space stations in a couple of nations.

Any discussion by China that this is soft power is simply not the truth. In the information space, we see where China state spokesman are outright just blatantly lying about some of the causality in Venezuela with respect to the electrical infrastructure, which was clearly Maduro's ineptness is the reason why the country doesn't electrical power and China blamed it on the U.S.  

So, across the front -- democracy, human rights, rule of law, sovereignty -- our partners and the values that this neighborhood has are aligned on those dimensions. I know how China's don't align across those dimensions. And so, the best response for us is to be that strong reliable consistent partner to be able to deliver our security assistance on time with a program that has return on investment for America and enhances the security of our partners."

Adm. Faller on Strengthening the Security Partnership with Brazil

"Brazil's a resource rich country that has the same values as us, the second-largest democracy in the hemisphere. They are all in. We've been down to Brazil. They've been to see us. We're integrating our staffs. We're sharing information. They're looking for ways to strengthen intelligence sharing, exercises, education.”


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.”