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Friday, February 3, 2023

New SOUTHCOM Commander: Transnational, Extremist Threats to Homeland ‘Real and Imminent’

The new commander of U.S. Southern Command believes that threats to the homeland from transnational criminal organizations are real and imminent.

Navy Adm. Craig Faller succeeded Navy Adm. Kurt W. Tidd in a change-of-command ceremony at USSOUTHCOM headquarters in Doral, Fla., on Nov. 26, which was also attended by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.

“Good neighborhoods all benefit from a strong neighborhood watch,” Faller said. “In our neighborhood, stability and security can’t be taken for granted. The threats to both our neighborhood and our homeland are real and imminent, from great power competition to transnational criminal organizations and violent extremists. Thankfully, our neighborhood shines as a beacon of opportunity in a world awash in rapid change and increasing complexity.”

Faller, a native of Fryburg, Pa., is a 1983 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, and received his master’s degree in national security affairs from the Naval Postgraduate School. His career credits include stints as senior military assistant to the secretary of Defense, director of operations at U.S. Central Command, director of operations at Navy Recruiting Command, executive assistant to both commanders of U.S. Pacific Command and CENTCOM and legislative fellow to late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.). He also served as commander of the John C. Stennis Strike Group/ Carrier Strike Group 3, and supported Operations New Dawn in Iraq and Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.

U.S. Southern Command is responsible for securing a region encompassing Latin America south of Mexico to the waters adjacent to Central and South America and the Caribbean.

The region is rife with illicit activity, according to testimony Tidd delivered to the Senate Armed Services Committee in February. Tidd’s predecessor as USSOUTHCOM commander was Gen. John Kelly, the current White House chief of staff. In his testimony, Tidd said that drug cartels and transnational criminal organizations are borderless, and that America’s economic and political rivals are seeking to influence the region. 

China, Russia, and Iran are courting some of our most strategically important Latin American and Caribbean partners and supporting authoritarian, anti-American regimes,” Tidd said. “China has pledged $500 billion in trade with Latin American countries and $250 billion in Chinese direct investment over the next 10 years. … Moscow attempts to falsely shape Latin America’s information environment through its two dedicated Spanish-language news and multimedia services, and through its influence campaigns to sway public sentiment. Expanded port and logistics access in Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela provide Russia with persistent, pernicious presence, including more frequent maritime intelligence collection and visible force projection in the Western Hemisphere.”

ARCHIVE: Coast Guard Air Station Savannah Conducts Change of Command Ceremony

James Cullum
Multimedia journalist James Cullum has reported for over a decade to newspapers, magazines and websites in the D.C. metro area. He excels at finding order in chaotic environments, from slave liberations in South Sudan to the halls of the power in Washington, D.C.

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