LATIN AMERICA: New Chief for U.S. Southern Command
Send in the Marine
Marine Corps Lt. Gen. John F. Kelly has been nominated to oversee U.S. military operations in the southern half of the Western Hemisphere – U.S. Southern Command.
Based in Miami, Florida, SOUTHCOM as it’s usually referred to, has military responsibilities for Latin America and the Caribbean Basin. Those responsibilities include organizing joint exercises with local militaries in the region as well as good will/humanitarian aid missions.
Building closer ties with partners in Latin America and Africa is expected to rise in importance in coming years as the Obama administration plans to focus most of the military’s attention on the Asia-Pacific region and the always volatile Middle East.
Kelly has been serving as senior military adviser to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta since March 2011.
Subject to Senate confirmation, Kelly will succeed Air Force Gen. Douglas Fraser as head of SOUTHCOM. A promotion to full (four star) general comes with the new post as head of one of the Defense Department’s six regional combatant commands.
A Boston native, Kelly enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1970, rising to the rank of sergeant before leaving to attend the University of Massachusetts. After graduation in 1976, he received an officer’s commission. He has served as a platoon and company commander in the 2nd Marine Division and done sea duty on the aircraft carriers USS Forrestal and USS Independence, according to his official biography.
He has also commanded a light armored reconnaissance battalion in the 1st Marine Division and served as: the Marine Corps’ legislative liaison to Capitol Hill; special assistant to the Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, in Mons, Belgium; assistant commander of the 1st Marine Division; and commander of the First Marine Expeditionary Force in Iraq. A graduate of the National War College, Kelly served two tours in Iraq.
In addition to the risks posed by violent transnational drug cartels in Mexico Colombia and a growing number of Central American countries, national security experts have worried about the possibility that international terrorists might try to develop a foothold in the remote and often lawless Triple Frontier region where the borders of Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina meet.
Top U.S. intelligence official told a Senate panel yesterday (Jan. 31) that they still have concerns about the growing influence of China and Iran in South and Central America.
Entry filed under: Counter Terrorism, International Crime, International Relief, Latin America, National Security and Defense, Skills and Training. Tags: Colombia, counter terrorism, drug smuggling, International Crime, Latin America, Lt. Gen. John F. Kelly, Marine Corps, Mexico, soft power, Southern Command.