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Power of Democracy Shines in Central, South America

Nov. 21, 2018 | BY Jim Garamone
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The power of democracy is particularly evident in Central and South America, Navy Adm. Kurt W. Tidd, the commander of U.S. Southern Command, said in a recent interview.

The bonds among the nations of the Western Hemisphere are strong and they cooperate and work together. A consistent and long-term strategy in the region has helped to foster that outcome.

Highlights From the Interview:

As an example, during the 1980s, Colombia was controlled by drug cartels and a rebellion. The Colombian military benefitted from internal controls and training provided by Southcom. “This is a part of our four military imperatives – the hallmarks of a 21st-century military force,” Tidd said.
Those imperatives are: institutionalizing respect for human rights, developing a professional noncommissioned officer corps, joint operations and working with nations to ensure they take advantage of the talent in their populations.
Today, the Colombian military is capable and professional, and it’s shifting from a force focused almost exclusively on a counterinsurgency to a more-rounded force.
Colombia is the result of a long-term investment. “We have worked side by side with them for decades, and now our Colombian partners are shoulder to shoulder with us; very capable and mature in their leadership,” the admiral said.
Tidd said Colombia also plays important security roles by helping other countries develop their own capabilities.
Other nations in the region understand their place in democracies. Some nations have been through challenges that in years past would have resulted in military coups, Tidd said. But those coups did not happen.
“[The] fact that we work together and stand with each other allows us to reinforce and support each other’s commitment to respecting the rule of law and trying to improve governance,” he said.
Southcom has made a conscious effort to be the “try-it-first-here” theater, Tidd said. “We work closely with the services and industry and allies and other government agencies to test ideas and give them meaningful feedback,” he noted.
An infographic describes U.S. Southern Command’s mission priorities and area of responsibility.
This is Southcom
U.S. Southern Command’s four mission priorities include building relationships, enabling rapid response, countering threat networks and innovation. Its area of responsibility includes one-sixth of the world’s landmass.
Photo By: DOD infographic
VIRIN: 181121-D-ZZ999-221
The problems confronting the command – drug interdiction, uncontrolled migration, trafficking in people and more – are complex.
But military-to-military contacts are the glue that cements the force elements required to make things happen, the admiral said.

Tidd will turn over the reins of the Miami-based command to Navy Adm. Craig S. Faller Nov. 26.