2021 Posture Statement to Congress

​Navy Adm. Craig S. Faller, commander of U.S. Southern Command, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee March 16, the House Services Committee April 14, and the House Appropriations Committee April 15, 2021, as part of the command’s annual Posture Statement to Congress. This page provides information, multimedia resources, documents and testimony excerpts.

DOCUMENTS & RESOURCES


ARTICLES

April 15: Southcom Can Use More ISR Capacity, Security Cooperation (DoD News)

March 16: Border, Hemispheric Security Discussed at Senate Hearing (DoD News)


EXCERPTS FROM HOUSE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE TESTIMONY APRIL 14, 2021

Adm. Faller on China’s activities in the region:

“China is increasing their influence across all elements. Their power from IT, cyber, information, particularly in the military… it's insidious.  It's right below the threshold of what you would observe but gets in tens of millions of dollars that they're offering, their expansion of the PME Program mirroring what we do at Leavenworth and all our great schools. And then opening up even further offering cyber engineering scholarships with full Mandarin immersion to second lieutenants at various courses, it's picked up at an alarming pace”

Adm. Faller on the security situation in Central America:

“COVID was like a perfect storm on the hemisphere. The fragility that existed from the transnational criminal organizations in their day-in and day-out violence, young institutions, young democracies that are plagued with corruption has just fueled this. So the conditions in Central America are -- they rival the great depression here in the United States in terms of how hard it's hit. And more needs to be done. This has opened a door for China and Russia to a lesser extent. We see it in their vaccine -- heavy handed vaccine diplomacy. New York Times ran an excellent article that cited a couple countries where their using the vaccines to leverage a shift to Taiwan. They're using the vaccines for better deals and this is China using it for better deals for 5G and Huawei, for example. And so we've got to come forward with positive proactive results for these countries to help them, things like our development finance core or the right idea through the build act at the right time. DOD has a role, as we stay engaged professionally.”

Adm. Faller on the multinational counter narcotics efforts:

“Joint Interagency Task Force South and Key West is a team of teams, we have every partner nation; including Mexico, Canada and our allies in Europe represented there. They -- despite COVID, they stepped up. When the U.S. stayed on the field they stepped up and increased their interdictions to -- from 50 to 60 percent participation rate. That's key. So we have to incentivize them to do that, recognize when they do. And Columbia is one of the countries that made a big impact. In fact, Costa Rica, Panama, Honduras, Guatemala, all made impacts last year professionally in that space. So continuing to invest in that capability is a -- is a good deal and a good return on investment for the U.S.”

Adm. Faller on SOUTHCOM’s Human Rights Program:

"SOUTHCOM has a human rights program, the only combatant command to have one. It's now on its 20th plus year. We've invested our own money in increasing the capacity of that program. We use that program with our partners, we have helped our partners, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador install human rights observers and advisors in their ministries and with their chiefs of defense. We hold seminars and I routinely through that program meet with the human rights NGOs in the United States and in partner nations."

EXCERPTS FROM SENATE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE TESTIMONY MARCH 16, 2021

Adm. Faller on China's influence in the region: 

“The Chinese Communist Party, with its insidious and corrupt influence, seeks regional and global economic dominance and its own version of a rules-based international order. Our strategic competition with China is global, not just in the Taiwan Strait or the South China Sea. China's quickly growing its influence here in our hemisphere, working on over 40 port deals, dishing out significant loans for political and economic influence, pushing for I.T. structure, and engaging in predatory practices like illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing. We have seen many of these tactics in Asia and Africa and we can't let them prevail here in our neighborhood.”

Adm. Faller on the situation in Venezuela:

“Despite an economy in tailspin -- more than 5 million refugees have fled Venezuela and the illegitimate Maduro regime -- Maduro continues to cling to power with the support of Cuba, Russia, Iran and China.”

Adm. Faller on China and Russia using COVID-19 to gain greater influence in the region:

“You have conditions that the pandemic has caused in Latin America and the Caribbean, rival those of the Great Depression here in the United States. It will take years for the region to cover. The IMF says it will take -- it is estimated as the region with the longest recovery time.  We have seen and there was a "New York Times" article today on this, China particularly moving in with heavy-handed mask and vaccine diplomacy that they are using the vaccines to leverage deals for their I.T., their 5G and they're using it to drive a wedge between some nations like Taiwan and others in the region. This is indicative of Chinese global course of insidious behavior. We're seeing it play out. We need to stay on the field of a whole of government effort. And once we've taken care of all -- the United States, be first with a concerted plan to take care of our neighborhood with vaccines here.”

Adm. Faller on SOUTHCOM efforts to counteract China, Russia regional influence:

“I can't stress enough the full court press that Chinese has on to gain their economic dominance in their version of world order globally and in this hemisphere. Which I look at this hemisphere as the frontline of competition and we have to approach that as such as the U.S. government across all elements of power with the diplomats and in the lead clearly. Our military plays a role. Our principle method to block Chinese military interests, the PLA is by staying engage with our partners in our exercise program, our IMET program. These are world-class. China's tried to copy them. They've tried to replicate Leavenworth and Spanish and Portuguese. 

We need to remain the best at what we do and ensure we provide the volume that is needed to allow our hemisphere partners to be professional and partner with us. In the I.T. space, we have to stay engaged to understand what they're up to. That goes back to the intelligence resources. So I would sum this up by saying additional intelligence assets, continued security cooperation and increased volume of IMET and exercises. And then enough assets to stay on the field that includes our small special operations force teams which are very effective. And last year we received great support from the United States Army to put some small security force assistance teams in places like Colombia and Honduras, which are having great effect, to train. And its only training, not accompany, our partners.” 

Adm. Faller on the important counter narcotics role of partner nations: 

“What our real goal here is to train our partner nations to take care of their own security problems. We can't interdict our way out of the narcotics problem. 

We've got to get our partners in the game. And this past year, despite a pandemic, they actually increased their performance, their involvement of up to 60 percent of all our disruptions. But that's still not enough; we've got to focus on the source and the destination. And one of the key areas that needs more emphasis and we've really worked hard this past year with our partners is in countering the money supply. I talked about the importance of that, really getting to break the back of these organizations. And I would note that in that regard the DEA has cited Chinese money-laundering as the number one underwriter of transnational criminal organizations.  So it's got to be a whole-of-government effort and we've got to work to build our partners' capacity.”

Adm. Faller on the threat of Transnational Criminal Organizations in the region:

“Transnational criminal organizations pose a direct threat to our national security. They traffic in arms, humans, drugs, and they claim tens of thousands of lives in America every year. These murderous tactics have resulted in 43 of the 50 most violent cities in the world being here in this hemisphere. And they drive illegal migration. And they allow bad actors like China to gain influence.”

Adm. Faller on the effects of COVID-19 in the region:

“COVID-19 has hit this hemisphere hard. According to the IMF, the economies of Latin America and the Caribbean shrunk 7.4 percent in 2020. The impacts of the pandemic, like a perfect storm, will alter the hemisphere for years to come. In the midst of all this, two back-to-back hurricanes devastated Central America, causing even greater instability. The pandemic and these unprecedented storms struck on top of this already vicious circle of threats, creating strong push factors for people in the region seeking a better life, seeking security, to come with their families to the United States.”

Adm. Faller on SOUTHCOM COVID-19 assistance in the region:

“Good neighbors are here when you need help, and that's what the United States did in SOUTHCOM when COVID hit. We stepped up with our humanitarian assistance program, contributing over 450 projects in 28 countries. Overall the United States is the leader in humanitarian assistance in COVID in Latin America and the Caribbean.”

Adm. Faller’s overview of SOUTHCOM security cooperation efforts in the region: 

“SOUTHCOM works every day to build readiness with our trusted military and security partners. We do this through security cooperation. This includes institutional capacity building, legal training, education, IMET and exercises. We focus on developing professional military forces that know how to fight and use the lawful use of military force. We focus on human rights training, women, peace and security programs, and NCO development. Modest investments in these programs and intelligence, surveillance and recognizance and our presence, our posture go a long way in this hemisphere and will help our fight -- our partners counter these global threats.”

Adm. Faller on importance of the U.S. Coast Guard to SOUTHCOM's mission:

“The Coast Guard's a tremendous asset for us. And they are on the field in a meaningful way. They are -- they are a top priority for all our partners building capacity and countering the threats despite the pandemic. The national security cutters, the fast response cutters these are -- these are, you know, well-manned, well-trained ships making a difference day in, day out, including their aircraft. I -- we couldn't do our mission without the United States Coast Guard. They are a principal source to counter threats in this hemisphere.”

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