SPECIAL OPERATIONS: What U.S. Commandos Need Around the World, Part II

June 11, 2014 at 11:59 pm Leave a comment

Needs and Wants, Part II

(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Alex Licea, Special Operations Command South Public Affairs Office

U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Alex Licea, Special Operations Command-South Public Affairs

TAMPA, Florida – At the National Defense Industry Association’s Special Operations Industry Conference (SOFIC), the generals and admirals who oversee Army Rangers, Navy Seals, Air Force combat controllers and other Special Operations Forces explained what they need to operate in vastly different environments. Today we focus on another of the three world regions the 4GWAR Blog follows closely: Central and South America.

LATIN AMERICA

In some ways, the special operators of U.S. Southern Command (SOCSOUTH) have it easy. Most people in Latin America speak one of two languages: Spanish or Portuguese, although there are 31 countries and numerous cultures from the Andes to the Pampas. (French is spoken in Haiti and several current and former French territories like Guiana.)

But South and Central America is another vast area with climates ranging from bone dry desert, ice covered mountains and equatorial jungles to teeming cities. Four of the world’s top 25 cities by population are in Southern Command’s area of  responsibility. Two of them, Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro are in Brazil.

While most of the region’s countries are democracies and the region’s economy is booming – like Africa’s — there is “a technology gap” between U.S. forces and partner nations who don’t have the air or computer power of their neighbors to the north, according to SOCSOUTH commander, Army Brigadier General Sean Mulholland. But Mullholland notes there is no silver bullet solution. “In SOUTHCOM, we need workable solutions,” he said, adding that solutions must be simple enough to work for foreign partners while being interoperable with existing U.S. systems. “In essence, in SOUTHCOM we are always looking for the next AK-47,” he said referring to the Soviet designed automatic assault rifle that has been manufactured and sold all over the world.

The region is plagued with landmines from past wars and insurgencies – especially in Colombia, which has the second highest land mine problem in the world after Afghanistan. Other technology priorities include riverine patrol boats, persistent intelligence, surviellance and reconnaissance (ISR) through manned surveillance aircraft or drones. And non-lethal technology to deal with the speed boats and semi-submersible drug smuggling vessels that ply the Atlantic and Pacifc coasts of South and Central America. “We have a very serious problem in SOUTHCOM with the rise in drug trafficking,” Mullholland says. While U.S. ground troops can only advise Latin American militaries in counter narcotics operations, U.S. air and naval assets help in  tracking and intercepting drug dealers at sea.

Riverine patrol boat in Colombia ((U.S. Army photo by Spc. Juancarlos

Riverine patrol boat in Colombia
(U.S. Army photo by Spc. Juancarlos Paz)

 TOMORROW: The Arctic

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Entry filed under: Counter Insurgency, Counter Terrorism, International Crime, Latin America, National Security and Defense, Naval Warfare, Skills and Training, Special Operations, Technology, Unconventional Warfare, Weaponry and Equipment. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

SPECIAL OPERATIONS: What U.S. Commandos Need Around the World SPECIAL OPERATIONS: What U.S. Commandos Need Around the World, Part III

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