United States Southern Command
The United States Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM), located in Miami, Florida, is one of nine Unified Combatant Command
Unified Combatant Command
A Unified Combatant Command is a United States Department of Defense command that is composed of forces from at least two Military Departments and has a broad and continuing mission. These commands are established to provide effective command and control of U.S. military forces, regardless of...

s (COCOMs) in the United States Department of Defense
United States Department of Defense
The United States Department of Defense is the U.S...

. It is responsible for providing contingency planning and operations in Central
Central America
Central America is the central geographic region of the Americas. It is the southernmost, isthmian portion of the North American continent, which connects with South America on the southeast. When considered part of the unified continental model, it is considered a subcontinent...

 and South America, the Caribbean
The Caribbean is a crescent-shaped group of islands more than 2,000 miles long separating the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, to the west and south, from the Atlantic Ocean, to the east and north...

 (except U.S. commonwealths, territories, and possessions), Cuba
The Republic of Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba consists of the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the largest city in Cuba and the country's capital. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city...

, their territorial waters, and for the force of U.S. military resources at these locations. USSOUTHCOM is also responsible for ensuring the militarization of the Panama Canal
Panama Canal
The Panama Canal is a ship canal in Panama that joins the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean and is a key conduit for international maritime trade. Built from 1904 to 1914, the canal has seen annual traffic rise from about 1,000 ships early on to 14,702 vessels measuring a total of 309.6...

 and canal area.

Under the leadership of a four-star Commander, USSOUTHCOM is organized into a headquarters with six main directorates, component commands and military groups that represent SOUTHCOM in the region of Central America, South America and the Caribbean. The current commander is General
General (United States)
In the United States Army, United States Air Force, and United States Marine Corps, general is a four-star general officer rank, with the pay grade of O-10. General ranks above lieutenant general and below General of the Army or General of the Air Force; the Marine Corps does not have an...

 Douglas M. Fraser
Douglas M. Fraser
Douglas Malcolm Fraser is a United States Air Force general who serves as the current Commander, U.S. Southern Command . He is the first Air Force officer to become USSOUTHCOM's combatant commander. He previously served as Deputy Commander, U.S. Pacific Command from April 2008 to June 24, 2009...

United States Air Force
The United States Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the American uniformed services. Initially part of the United States Army, the USAF was formed as a separate branch of the military on September 18, 1947 under the National Security Act of...


USSOUTHCOM is a joint command of more than 1,200 military and civilian personnel representing the United States Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

, Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

, Air Force
United States Air Force
The United States Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the American uniformed services. Initially part of the United States Army, the USAF was formed as a separate branch of the military on September 18, 1947 under the National Security Act of...

, Marine Corps
United States Marine Corps
The United States Marine Corps is a branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for providing power projection from the sea, using the mobility of the United States Navy to deliver combined-arms task forces rapidly. It is one of seven uniformed services of the United States...

, Coast Guard
United States Coast Guard
The United States Coast Guard is a branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven U.S. uniformed services. The Coast Guard is a maritime, military, multi-mission service unique among the military branches for having a maritime law enforcement mission and a federal regulatory agency...

, and several other federal agencies. Civilians working at USSOUTHCOM are, for the most part, civilian employees of the Army, as the Army is USSOUTHCOM's Combatant Command Support Agent. The Services provide USSOUTHCOM with component commands which, along with their Joint Special Operations
Special operations
Special operations are military operations that are considered "special" .Special operations are typically performed independently or in conjunction with conventional military operations. The primary goal is to achieve a political or military objective where a conventional force requirement does...

 component, two Joint Task Forces, one Joint Interagency Task Force, and Security Cooperation Offices, perform USSOUTHCOM missions and activities. USSOUTHCOM exercises its COCOM authority through the commanders of its components, Joint Task Forces/Joint Interagency Task Force, and Security Cooperation Organizations.

Area of interest

The USSOUTHCOM Area of Responsibility (AOR) encompasses 32 nations (19 in Central and South America and 13 in the Caribbean), of which 31 are democracies, and 14 U.S. and European territories. As of October 2002, the area of focus covered 14.5 million square miles (23.2 million square kilometers.)

The United States Southern Command area of interest includes:
  • The land mass of Latin America south of Mexico
    The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

  • The waters adjacent to Central and South America
  • The Caribbean Sea
    Caribbean Sea
    The Caribbean Sea is a sea of the Atlantic Ocean located in the tropics of the Western hemisphere. It is bounded by Mexico and Central America to the west and southwest, to the north by the Greater Antilles, and to the east by the Lesser Antilles....

    , its 12 island nations and European territories
  • A portion of the Atlantic Ocean
  • The inhabitants of these areas including civilians


USSOUTHCOM accomplishes much of its mission through its service components, four representing each service and one specializing in Special Operations missions:

U.S. Army South

Located at Fort Sam Houston
Fort Sam Houston
Fort Sam Houston is a U.S. Army post in San Antonio, Texas.Known colloquially as "Fort Sam," it is named for the first President of the Republic of Texas, Sam Houston....

, Texas, ARSOUTH forces include aviation, intelligence, communication, and logistics units. ARSOUTH supports regional disaster relief and counterdrug efforts. ARSOUTH also exercises oversight, planning, and logistical support for humanitarian and civic assistance projects throughout the region in support of the USSOUTHCOM Theater Security Cooperation Strategy. ARSOUTH provides Title 10 and Executive Agent responsibilities throughout the Latin American and Caribbean region.

Air Forces Southern

Located at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base
Davis-Monthan Air Force Base
Davis–Monthan Air Force Base is a United States Air Force base located within the city limits, and approximately south-southeast of downtown, Tucson, Arizona....

, Arizona
Arizona ; is a state located in the southwestern region of the United States. It is also part of the western United States and the mountain west. The capital and largest city is Phoenix...

, AFSOUTH consists of a staff; a Falconer Combined Air and Space Operations Center for command and control of air activity in the USSOUTHCOM area and an Air Force operations group responsible for Air Force forces in the area. AFSOUTH serves as the executive agent for forward operating locations; provides joint/combined radar surveillance architecture oversight; provides intra-theater airlift; and supports USSOUTHCOM's Theater Security Cooperation Strategy through regional disaster relief exercises and counter-drug operations. AFSOUTH also provides oversight, planning, execution, and logistical support for humanitarian and civic assistance projects and hosts a number of Airmen-to-Airmen conferences. Twelfth Air Force is also leading the way in bringing the Chief of Staff of the Air Force's Warfighting Headquarters (WFHQ) concept to life. The WFHQ is composed of a command and control element, an Air Force forces staff and an Air Operations Center. Operating as a WFHQ since June 2004, Twelfth Air Force has served as the Air Force model for the future of Combined Air and Space Operations Centers and WFHQ Air Force forces.

U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command & U.S. Fourth Fleet

Located at Naval Station Mayport
Naval Station Mayport
Naval Station Mayport is a major United States Navy base in Jacksonville, Florida. It contains a military airfield with one asphalt paved runway measuring 8,001 x 200 ft. ....

, Florida, USNAVSO exercises command and control over all U.S. naval operations in the USSOUTHCOM area including naval exercises, maritime operations, and port visits. USNAVSO is also the executive agent for the operation of the military location at Comalapa, El Salvador, which provides basing in support of aerial counter narco-terrorism operations.

On 24 April 2008, Admiral
Admiral (United States)
In the United States Navy, the United States Coast Guard and the United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, admiral is a four-star flag officer rank, with the pay grade of O-10. Admiral ranks above vice admiral and below Fleet Admiral in the Navy; the Coast Guard and the Public Health...

 Gary Roughead
Gary Roughead
Gary Roughead is a retired United States Navy four-star admiral who last served as the 29th Chief of Naval Operations from September 29, 2007 to September 22, 2011. He previously served as Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command, from May 17, 2007, to September 29, 2007. Prior to that he served as...

, the Chief of Naval Operations
Chief of Naval Operations
The Chief of Naval Operations is a statutory office held by a four-star admiral in the United States Navy, and is the most senior uniformed officer assigned to serve in the Department of the Navy. The office is a military adviser and deputy to the Secretary of the Navy...

, announced that the United States Fourth Fleet would be re-established, effective 1 July, with responsible for U.S. Navy ships, aircraft and submarines operating in the Caribbean Sea, as well as Central and South America. Rear Admiral
Rear admiral (United States)
Rear admiral is a naval commissioned officer rank above that of a commodore and captain, and below that of a vice admiral. The uniformed services of the United States are unique in having two grades of rear admirals.- Rear admiral :...

 Joseph D. Kernan
Joseph D. Kernan
Joseph D. "Joe" Kernan is a United States Navy vice admiral. He serves as the Military Deputy Commander of U.S. Southern Command , Miami, Florida. He assumed his current assignment on May 23, 2011.He is second-in-command of one of ten unified commands under the Department of Defense...

 was named as the fleet commander and Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command
U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command
U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command is the naval element of United States Southern Command . Its areas of operation include South America, Central America, the Caribbean and surrounding waters. Its headquarters are located at Naval Station Mayport, Florida. USNAVSO is currently under the command...


U.S. Marine Corps Forces, South

Located in Miami, Florida, USMARFORSOUTH commands all United States Marine Corps Forces (MARFORs) assigned to USSOUTHCOM; advises USSOUTHCOM on the proper employment and support of MARFORs; conducts deployment/redeployment planning and execution of assigned/attached MARFORs; and accomplishes other operational missions as assigned.

Special Operations Command South

Located at Homestead Air Reserve Base
Homestead Air Reserve Base
Homestead Air Reserve Base is a United States Air Force base located approximately east-northeast of Homestead, Florida.The host unit at Homestead is the 482d Fighter Wing assigned to the Air Force Reserve Command Tenth Air Force...

 near Miami, Florida, USSOCSOUTH provides the primary theater contingency response force and plans, prepares for, and conducts special operations in support of USSOUTHCOM. USSOCSOUTH controls all Special Operations Forces in the region and also establishes and operates a Joint Special Operations Task Force when required. As a Theater Special Operations Command (TSOC), USSOCSOUTH is a sub-unified command of USSOUTHCOM.

There are also three task forces with specific missions in the region that report to U.S. Southern Command:

Joint Task Force Bravo

Located at Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras, JTF -Bravo operates a forward, all-weather day/night C-5
C-5 Galaxy
The Lockheed C-5 Galaxy is a large military transport aircraft built by Lockheed. It provides the United States Air Force with a heavy intercontinental-range strategic airlift capability, one that can carry outsize and oversize cargos, including all air-certifiable cargo. The Galaxy has many...

-capable airbase. JTF – Bravo organizes multilateral exercises and supports, in cooperation with partner nations, humanitarian and civic assistance, counterdrug, contingency and disaster relief operations in Central America.

Joint Task Force Guantanamo

Located at U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, JTF – Guantanamo conducts detention and interrogation operations in support of the War on Terrorism
War on Terrorism
The War on Terror is a term commonly applied to an international military campaign led by the United States and the United Kingdom with the support of other North Atlantic Treaty Organisation as well as non-NATO countries...

, coordinates and implements detainee screening operations, and supports law enforcement and war crimes as well as Military Commissions for Detained Enemy Combatants. JTF – Guantanamo is also prepared to support mass migration operations at Naval Station GTMO.

Joint Interagency Task Force South

Located in Key West
Key West
Key West is an island in the Straits of Florida on the North American continent at the southernmost tip of the Florida Keys. Key West is home to the southernmost point in the Continental United States; the island is about from Cuba....

, Florida, JIATF South is an interagency task force that serves as the catalyst for integrated and synchronized interagency counter-drug operations and is responsible for the detection and monitoring of suspect air and maritime drug activity in the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, and the eastern Pacific. JIATF- South also collects, processes, and disseminates counter-drug information for interagency operations. Manta Air Base
Manta Air Base
Manta Air Base / Eloy Alfaro International Airport is a combination civilian airport and military air base on the outskirts of Manta in the province of Manabí in western continental Ecuador. The airport, also known as Eloy Alfaro Air Base, is named in honor of Eloy Alfaro, a former president of...

 is one of JIATF-South's bases, in Ecuador.

Humanitarian assistance and disaster relief

USSOUTHCOM's overseas humanitarian assistance and disaster relief programs build the capacity of host nations to respond to disasters and build their self-sufficiency while also empowering regional organizations.

These programs provide valuable training to U.S. military units in responding effectively to assist the victims of storms, earthquakes, and other natural disasters through the provision of military services, as well as civil construction projects.

The Humanitarian Assistance Program funds projects that enhance the capacity of host nations to respond when disasters strike and better prepare them to mitigate acts of terrorism. Humanitarian Assistance Program projects such as technical aid and the construction of disaster relief warehouses, emergency operation centers, shelters, and schools promote peace and stability, support the development of the civilian infrastructure necessary for economic and social reforms, and modify the living conditions of impoverished regions in the AOR.

Humanitarian assistance exercises such as Neuvos Horizontes (New Horizons) involve construction of schools, clinics, and water wells in countries throughout the region. At the same time, medical readiness exercises involving teams consisting of doctors, nurses and dentists also provide general and specialized health services to host nation citizens requiring care. These humanitarian assistance exercises, which last several months each, provide much needed services and infrastructure, while providing critical training for deployed U.S. military forces. These exercises generally take place in rural, underprivileged areas. USSOUTHCOM attempts to combine these efforts with those of host-nation doctors, either military or civilian, to make it even more beneficial and special.

In 2006, USSOUTHCOM sponsored 69 Medical Readiness Training Exercises in 15 nations, providing medical services to more than 270,000 citizens from the region. During 2007, USSOUTHCOM is scheduled to conduct 61 additional medical exercises in 14 partner nations.

USSOUTHCOM sponsors disaster preparedness exercises, seminars and conferences to improve the collective ability of the U.S. and its partner nations to respond effectively and expeditiously to disasters. USSOUTHCOM has also supported the construction or improvement of three Emergency Operations Centers, 13 Disaster Relief Warehouses and prepositioned relief supplies across the region. Construction of eight additional Emergency Operation Centers and seven additional warehouses is ongoing.

This type of multinational disaster preparedness has proven to increase the ability of USSOUTHCOM to work with America's partner nations. For example, following the 2005 Hurricane Stan
Hurricane Stan
Hurricane Stan was the eighteenth named tropical storm and eleventh hurricane of the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season. It was also the sixth of seven tropical cyclones to make landfall in Mexico. Stan was a relatively weak storm that only briefly reached hurricane status...

 in Guatemala, USSOUTHCOM deployed 11 military helicopters and 125 personnel to assist with relief efforts. In conjunction with their Guatemalan counterparts, they evacuated 48 victims and delivered nearly 200 tons of food, medical supplies and communications equipment. Following Tropical Storm Gamma in Honduras, JTF-Bravo deployed nine helicopters and more than 40 personnel to assist with relief efforts. They airlifted more than 100,000 pounds of emergency food, water and medical supplies. USSOUTHCOM was deployed to Haiti
Haiti , officially the Republic of Haiti , is a Caribbean country. It occupies the western, smaller portion of the island of Hispaniola, in the Greater Antillean archipelago, which it shares with the Dominican Republic. Ayiti was the indigenous Taíno or Amerindian name for the island...

 following the 2010 Haiti earthquake
2010 Haiti earthquake
The 2010 Haiti earthquake was a catastrophic magnitude 7.0 Mw earthquake, with an epicentre near the town of Léogâne, approximately west of Port-au-Prince, Haiti's capital. The earthquake occurred at 16:53 local time on Tuesday, 12 January 2010.By 24 January, at least 52 aftershocks...

 to lead the humanitarian effort.

USSOUTHCOM also conducts counternarcotics and counternarcoterrorism programs.


The United States Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM) traces its origins to 1903 when the first U.S. Marines arrived in Panama
Panama , officially the Republic of Panama , is the southernmost country of Central America. Situated on the isthmus connecting North and South America, it is bordered by Costa Rica to the northwest, Colombia to the southeast, the Caribbean Sea to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south. The...

 to ensure US control of the Panama Railroad connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans across the narrow waist of the Panamanian Isthmus.

The Marines protected the Panamanian civilian uprising led by former Panama Canal Company general manager Philippe-Jean Bunau-Varilla
Philippe-Jean Bunau-Varilla
Philippe-Jean Bunau-Varilla , commonly referred to as simply Philippe Bunau-Varilla and Monsignor Brun Varilla, was a French engineer and soldier...

 guaranteeing his creation of the Panamanian state. Following the signing of the Hay–Bunau-Varilla Treaty granting control of the Panama Canal Zone
Panama Canal Zone
The Panama Canal Zone was a unorganized U.S. territory located within the Republic of Panama, consisting of the Panama Canal and an area generally extending 5 miles on each side of the centerline, but excluding Panama City and Colón, which otherwise would have been partly within the limits of...

 to the United States. The Marines remained to provide security during the early construction days of the Panama Canal.

In 1904, Army Colonel William C. Gorgas
William C. Gorgas
William Crawford Gorgas KCMG was a United States Army physician and 22nd Surgeon General of the U.S. Army...

 was sent to the Canal Zone (as it was then called) as Chief Sanitary Officer to fight yellow fever
Yellow fever
Yellow fever is an acute viral hemorrhagic disease. The virus is a 40 to 50 nm enveloped RNA virus with positive sense of the Flaviviridae family....

 and malaria
Malaria is a mosquito-borne infectious disease of humans and other animals caused by eukaryotic protists of the genus Plasmodium. The disease results from the multiplication of Plasmodium parasites within red blood cells, causing symptoms that typically include fever and headache, in severe cases...

. In two years, yellow fever was eliminated from the Canal Zone. Soon after, malaria was also brought under control. With the appointment of Army Lieutenant Colonel George W. Goethals to the post of chief engineer
Chief Engineer
In marine transportation, the chief engineer is a licensed mariner in charge of the engineering department on a merchant vessel. "Chief engineer" is the official title of someone qualified to oversee the entire engine department; the qualification is colloquially called a "chief's...

 of the Isthmian Canal Commission
Isthmian Canal Commission
The Isthmian Canal Commission was an American administration commission set up to oversee the construction of the Panama Canal in the early years of American involvement. Established in 1904, it was given control of the Panama Canal Zone over which the United States exercised sovereignty...

 by then President Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt was the 26th President of the United States . He is noted for his exuberant personality, range of interests and achievements, and his leadership of the Progressive Movement, as well as his "cowboy" persona and robust masculinity...

 in 1907, the construction changed from a civilian to a military project.

In 1911, the first troops of the U.S. Army's 10th Infantry Regiment arrived at Camp E. S. Otis, on the Pacific side of the Isthmus. They assumed primary responsibility for Canal defense. In 1914, the Marine Battalion left the Isthmus to participate in operations against Pancho Villa
Pancho Villa
José Doroteo Arango Arámbula – better known by his pseudonym Francisco Villa or its hypocorism Pancho Villa – was one of the most prominent Mexican Revolutionary generals....

 in Mexico . On 14 August 1914, seven years after Goethals' arrival, the Panama Canal opened to world commerce.

The first company of coastal artillery troops arrived in 1914 and later established fortifications at each end ( Atlantic and Pacific) of the Canal, with mobile forces of infantry and light artillery centrally located to support either end. By 1915, a consolidated command was designated as Headquarters, U.S. Troops, Panama Canal Zone. The command reported directly to the Army's Eastern Department headquartered at Fort Jay
Fort Jay
Fort Jay is a harbor fortification and the name of the former Army post located on Governors Island in New York Harbor. Fort Jay is the oldest defensive structure on the island, built to defend Upper New York Bay, but has served other purposes...

, Governors Island
Governors Island
Governors Island is a island in Upper New York Bay, approximately one-half mile from the southern tip of Manhattan Island and separated from Brooklyn by Buttermilk Channel. It is legally part of the borough of Manhattan in New York City...

, New York. The headquarters of this newly created command was first located in the Isthmian Canal Commission building in the town of Ancon
Ancon Building Products is a company that designs and manufactures Stainless steel products for the construction industry founded and still based in Sheffield, United Kingdom. The main products being "Wall Tie", and brickwork support systems. Ancon is part of Tyco International...

, adjacent to Panama City
Panama City
Panama is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Panama. It has a population of 880,691, with a total metro population of 1,272,672, and it is located at the Pacific entrance of the Panama Canal, in the province of the same name. The city is the political and administrative center of the...

 . It relocated in 1916 to the nearby newly designated military post of Quarry Heights , which had begun construction in 1911.

On 1 July 1917, the Panama Canal Department was activated as a geographic command of the U.S. Army. It remained as the senior Army headquarters in the region until activation of the Caribbean Defense Command (CDC) on 10 February 1941. The CDC co-located at Quarry Heights , was commanded by Lieutenant General Daniel Van Voorhis
Daniel Van Voorhis
Daniel Van Voorhis was a United States Army Lieutenant General and was noteworthy for his assignments as commander of V Corps and the Caribbean Defense Command, as well as his efforts in creating the Army's modern Armor branch.-Early life:...

, who continued to command the Panama Canal Department.

The new command eventually assumed operational responsibility over air and naval forces assigned in its area of operations. By early 1942, a Joint Operations Center had been established at Quarry Heights. In the meantime, military strength in the area was gradually rising and reached its peak in January 1943, when 68,000 personnel were defending the Panama Canal. Military strength was sharply reduced with the termination of World War II. Between 1946 and 1974, total military strength in Panama fluctuated between 6,600 and 20,300 (with the lowest force strength in 1959). From 1975 until late 1994 total military strength in Panama remained at about 10,000 personnel.

In December 1946, President Harry S. Truman
Harry S. Truman
Harry S. Truman was the 33rd President of the United States . As President Franklin D. Roosevelt's third vice president and the 34th Vice President of the United States , he succeeded to the presidency on April 12, 1945, when President Roosevelt died less than three months after beginning his...

 approved recommendations of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Joint Chiefs of Staff
The Joint Chiefs of Staff is a body of senior uniformed leaders in the United States Department of Defense who advise the Secretary of Defense, the Homeland Security Council, the National Security Council and the President on military matters...

 for a comprehensive system of military commands to put responsibility for conducting military operations of all military forces in various geographical areas, in the hands of a single commander. Thus, the principle of Unified Combatant Command
Unified Combatant Command
A Unified Combatant Command is a United States Department of Defense command that is composed of forces from at least two Military Departments and has a broad and continuing mission. These commands are established to provide effective command and control of U.S. military forces, regardless of...

 was established and the Caribbean Command was one of them. Although the Caribbean Command was designated by the Defense Department on 1 November 1947, it did not become fully operational until 10 March 1948, when the old Caribbean Defense Command was inactivated.

On 6 June 1963, reflecting the fact that the command had a responsibility for U.S. military operations primarily in Central and South America, rather than in the Caribbean, it was formally redesignated as the United States Southern Command.

In January 1996 and June 1997, two phases of changes to the Department of Defense Unified Command Plan (UCP) were completed. Each phase of the UCP change added territory to SOUTHCOM's area of responsibility
Area of responsibility
Area Of Responsibility is a pre-defined geographic region assigned to a Combatant commanders of the Unified Command Plan , that are used to define an area with specific geographic boundaries where they have the authority to plan and conduct operations; for which a force, or component commander...

. The impact of the changes is significant. The new AOR includes the Caribbean, its 13 island nations and several U.S. and European territories, the Gulf of Mexico, as well as significant portions of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans . The 1999 update to the UCP – known as VISION 21 – also transfers responsibility of an additional portion of the Atlantic Ocean to SOUTHCOM. On 1 October 2000, USSOUTHCOM assumed responsibility of the adjacent waters in the upper quadrant above Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

 , which was presently under the responsibility of USJFCOM.

The new AOR encompasses 32 nations (19 in Central and South America and 13 in the Caribbean), of which 31 are democracies, and 14 U.S. and European territories covering more than 15600000 square miles (40,403,814.5 km²).

With the creation of the United States Department of Homeland Security
United States Department of Homeland Security
The United States Department of Homeland Security is a cabinet department of the United States federal government, created in response to the September 11 attacks, and with the primary responsibilities of protecting the territory of the United States and protectorates from and responding to...

, USSOUTHCOM Area of Responsibility (October 2002) experienced minor upper boundary redistribution or changes decreasing its total boundary by 1.1 square miles. (14.5 million square miles (23.2 million square kilometers.)

With the implementation of the Panama Canal Treaties (the Panama Canal Treaty of 1977 and the Treaty concerning the Permanent Neutrality and Operations of the Panama Canal), the U.S. Southern Command was relocated in Miami, Florida on 26 September 1997.

A new headquarters building is currently under construction adjacent to the current rented building in the Doral area of Miami-Dade County. It is expected to be occupied in 2010.

Transformation of U.S. Southern Command to an Interagency-Oriented Organization

U.S. Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM) is reorganizing to become a more interagency-oriented organization. The Secretary of Defense authorized this reorganization in September 2007, and USSOUTHCOM’s efforts are also highlighted as one of the Top 25 Department of Defense Transformation Priorities. Based upon this guidance from the Secretary of Defense and authority provided in Title 10, U.S. Code of Federal Regulations, Section 164, the Combatant Commander is modifying the organization of the Command to better execute its mission.

A principal driver for the reorganization was the Commander’s assessment of the regional security environment, based upon the underlying conditions that foster the security challenges of the USSOUTHCOM area of focus, such as narco-trafficking and other illicit-trafficking activities, and organized crime and gangs. Exacerbated by conditions of poverty, income inequality, and social exclusion, these security challenges are transnational in terms of impact and manifestation, and cross roles and mission lines of U.S. Government departments and agencies.

The new USSOUTHCOM organizational structure (provisionally adopted in May 2008, and fully implemented 1 October 2008) is designed to allow the Command to collaborate proactively with the U.S. Government interagency community and with partner nations in the region—ultimately improving collective responses to regional and transnational security challenges.

Through expanded interagency participation, USSOUTHCOM also intends to improve the regional understanding and situational awareness of Command leadership and staff in order to execute the Command’s mission more effectively. This cooperative participation will build on a strong track record of proven interagency partnerships already in place at the Command – much of which stems from decades of combined work on counternarcotics issues.

Although the reorganization will seek to better support the synchronization of the soft power elements of national security, USSOUTHCOM will remain a DoD geographic combatant command, with the vast majority of personnel and funding sourced by DoD. The fundamental mission remains unchanged – even with an increased focus on interagency approaches. USSOUTHCOM will continue to conduct military operations and security operations with an unbroken and capable military chain of command and authority.

The new organization has several components. Two deputies to the commander, one military and one civilian, will provide broad, senior-level management expertise in order to synchronize USSOUTHCOM activities with Chief of Mission implementation of U.S. foreign policy and ongoing whole-of-government approaches in the region. USSOUTHCOM now has six main directorates—three mission directorates (Security and Intelligence, Stability, and Partnering) and three enabling or functional directorates (Policy and Strategy, Resources and Assessments, and Enterprise Support). Interagency representatives from over 17 U.S. Government departments and agencies are integrated throughout the new structure according to the function of the directorate, with many in key senior leadership roles. For example, the Partnering Directorate benefits from the integration of two senior interagency representatives – a State Department Senior Foreign Service Officer as the deputy, and a senior GS-15 representative from the U.S. Agency for International Development as a division chief.

In concert with the USSOUTHCOM reorganization, the Combatant Commander established a new strategic planning process that ensures unity of effort
Unity of effort
Unity of effort is the state of harmonizing efforts among multiple organizations working towards a similar objective. This prevents organizations from working at cross purposes and it reduces duplication of effort. Multiple organizations can achieve unity of effort through shared common objectives...

 as we work to achieve the goals and objectives contained within the interagency informed Command Strategy 2018. This strategic planning process helps to focus and align all command activities and capabilities, prioritize critical resource requirements, and measure progress toward achieving the USSOUTHCOM mission.

With an emphasis on interagency support and developed with interagency involvement, the Command Strategy 2018 also helps enable a broader and critical cultural change in the Command which will result in an improved ability to work more efficiently with interagency partners.

See also

  • Mellander, Gustavo A.; Nelly Maldonado Mellander (1999). Charles Edward Magoon: The Panama Years. Río Piedras, Puerto Rico: Editorial Plaza Mayor. ISBN 1-56328-155-4. OCLC 42970390.
  • Mellander, Gustavo A. (1971). The United States in Panamanian Politics: The Intriguing Formative Years. Danville, Ill.: Interstate Publishers. OCLC 138568.
  • Manta Air Base
    Manta Air Base
    Manta Air Base / Eloy Alfaro International Airport is a combination civilian airport and military air base on the outskirts of Manta in the province of Manabí in western continental Ecuador. The airport, also known as Eloy Alfaro Air Base, is named in honor of Eloy Alfaro, a former president of...

  • Operation Coronet Nighthawk
    Operation Coronet Nighthawk
    Operation Coronet Nighthawk was a U.S. anti-narcotic smuggling air patrol operation. Formerly carried out from Howard Air Force Base in Panama, the operation was moved to Hato, at Curaçao in the Netherlands Antilles from April 1999...

  • Caribbean Regional Maritime Agreement
    Caribbean Regional Maritime Agreement
    The Agreement Concerning Co-operation in Suppressing Illicit Maritime and Air Trafficking in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances in the Caribbean Area, known in short form as the Caribbean Regional Maritime Agreement or Caribbean Regional Agreement , is a 2003 agreement regarding the...

  • Partnership for Prosperity and Security in the Caribbean
    Partnership for Prosperity and Security in the Caribbean
    The Partnership for Prosperity and Security in the Caribbean is a regional-level dialogue with the stated purpose of providing greater cooperation on security and economic issues...

  • Operation Enduring Freedom - Caribbean and Central America
    Operation Enduring Freedom - Caribbean and Central America
    Operation Enduring Freedom - Caribbean and Central America is the name of a U.S.-led regional military operation initiated in 2008, under the control of United States Southern Command...

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