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U.S. Southern Command Assumes Responsibility for Caribbean

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 1, 1996 – Defense responsibilities for the Caribbean basin will transfer from the U.S. Atlantic Command to the U.S. Southern Command on June 1, 1997.

Defense officials said Defense Secretary William J. Perry recently approved Phase II of DoD's Unified Command Plan Realignment.

With the approval, U.S. Southern Command will expand to include covering the Caribbean Sea and its island nations. These islands include European possessions, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The command will maintain U.S. defense responsibilities in the Atlantic Ocean south of 28 degrees north latitude and west of 58 degrees west longitude.

Perry's order implements the changes to the Unified Command Plan announced last February. Last January, the Southern Command took defense responsibilities for the waters adjoining Central and South America, and the Gulf of Mexico.

Officials said the changes satisfy two objectives. The first is to enhance Southern Command's interaction with the navies of Central and South American nations. The second is to have one commander control all U.S. military activities in the Caribbean basin and Central and South America.

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