Admiral Says United States Seeks to broaden Latin American Competitive Space

Partnerships and widening the competitive space in all areas are two central principles in the National Defense Strategy. That’s what the Department of Defense is doing in the United States Southern Command and abroad, stated Adm. Craig S. Faller of the Navy. Southcom commander Faller stated yesterday that those initiatives include partner-nation preparation and education, defense coordination, countering transnational criminal groups, avoiding illegal fishing, drills, staff meetings, exchanging plans and information, and providing a military presence to support and reassure them.

Faller told virtual participants of the Surface Navy Association Annual National Symposium that it’s to everyone’s benefit in this hemisphere also to have allies with good military capability. He stated Colombia, which has a top-notch military force, is one case. In their shipyards, Colombians also manufacture quality warships and export them to other countries of South America as well as the Far East. Brazil, too, has been investing in a capable navy. In the annual UNITAS drills, Chile, Colombia, Panama, Peru, the Dominican Republic, Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador, Uruguay, and other countries, including NATO allies, participated, he added.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic and budget problems that forced the nation to be missing from the world’s stage for over ten years, Ecuador headed UNITAS in the year 2020. “Our capacity to target vulnerabilities doubled,” Faller stated. “And our partner potential went from about 48 percent to 60 percent. So, we have got to take control of today’s challenges to broaden the competitive space.” In strengthening alliances, humanitarian missions are an important factor, he added. A category 4 and 5 storm crashed into Central America in the month of November, and the DOD helped rescue over 1,000 lives together with the Coast Guard. Also, the two Navy hospital ships which are in Southcom regularly make port calls, he said.

They treat multiple patients, and they promote goodwill. Faller said that for everyone in this hemisphere, alliances are significant. China appears to pose a big danger to this hemisphere, finding deep-water ports in Jamaica, El Salvador, and elsewhere, and efforts by the Chinese to monitor the Panama Canal. He added that they are also trying by tugboat and dredging contracts to obtain connections to inland waterways in Brazil and neighboring countries. In several areas of the Southcom zone, Chinese fishing fleets collect illicit catches, he said.

The Chinese are still seeking to market their equipment for the 5G network, which seems to be a security threat, he added. In addition to China, Iran, Russia, Cuba, and Nicaragua aim to destabilize local democracies as well as spread misinformation and participate in illegal activity, he added. It is also in the interest of allies in this hemisphere to stay united and work together to ensure peace and stability for all, he added, adding that Latin America is really the largest trade ally of the United States, after Asia.