statement by Gen. James T. Hill, commander, U.S. Southern Command, House
Armed Services Committee, March 12, 2003
GENERAL JAMES T. HILL
UNITED STATES ARMY
COMMANDER, UNITED STATES SOUTHERN COMMAND
BEFORE THE HOUSE
ARMED SERVICE COMMITTEE
UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ON THE STATE OF
SPECIAL OPERATIONS FORCES
MARCH 12, 2003
Mr. Chairman, Representative
Skelton, Members of the Committee, it is a pleasure to appear before you
today to present the United States Southern Commands current posture
statement. I am honored to have the opportunity to highlight the important
contributions the men and women of our command are making to the War on
Terrorism. These Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, members of the Coast
Guard, and our civilians are working in virtually every nation in the
region to promote U.S. national security interests. Their work has done
much to preserve stability and strengthen relationships with our allies.
Since taking command
seven months ago, I have traveled extensively throughout the region and
have witnessed the mounting challenges facing regional leaders and their
people. The expectations derived from popular elections and free market
reforms, seemingly so achievable at the close of the last century, are
not being realized at the dawn of this one. Economic stagnation, endemic
corruption, and unprecedented challenges to sovereignty by international
terrorists, narcoterrorists, and drugs, arms, and human trafficking organizations
threaten many of the hemispheres fledgling democracies. Without
sustained international support, some of these democracies could collapse,
signaling the return of authoritarian regimes that respect neither human
rights nor democratic principles. Today, I will outline the United States
Southern Commands priorities in the hemisphere and the impact of
what we do, or fail to do, on our own national security. The strategic
importance of the hemisphere, the War on Terrorism, and our interests
in Colombia remain central.
Importance of the
The nations of our
hemisphere are largely at peace with each other and have foresworn the
development of weapons of mass destruction. Indeed, the regional nuclear
non-proliferation Treaty of Tlatlelolco, is one of the most successful
in history. Military spending on a per capita basis is lower in Latin
America than anywhere else in the world. There are many cultural, economic,
and political reasons to suggest that U.S. Latin relationships
should be increasingly important, yet world events keep U.S. security
policy focused appropriately in other directions.
The region is the
number one source of new Americans as more than 34 million residents in
the U.S. are of Latin origin. Latin Americans are the largest and fastest
growing minority group in the country and by 2050 are projected to comprise
one quarter of the U.S. population. Their growing numbers are having a
profound influence on our society and culture.
Our economic and
strategic ties to Latin America and the Caribbean have never been stronger..
The region provides over 31 percent of our imported oil, more than all
Middle Eastern countries combined. The volatility of the Middle East makes
the availability of oil supplies from Latin America and the Caribbean
all the more critical. The U.S. conducts more than 360 billion dollars
of annual trade with Latin America and the Caribbean, nearly as much as
with the entire European Community. By the year 2010, trade with Latin
America is expected to exceed that with the European Economic Community
and Japan combined. This exchange translates into millions of American
jobs and businesses linked to this region. As our recently negotiated
Free Trade Agreement with Chile shows, these links will only grow as we
progress toward the presidents vision of a Free Trade Agreement
of the Americas. Latin America is also critical to the global environment
as the Amazon Basin produces 20 percent of the worlds freshwater
runoff and 25 percent of the worlds oxygen. Also, 25 percent of
United States pharmaceuticals are derived from sources in this same area.
During the past twenty-five
years, Latin American and Caribbean nations have emerged from limited
democracies and dictatorial regimes to democracies governed by elected
civilian leaders that have increased respect human rights and control
their military forces. This transformation is in no small measure a result
of Southern Commands ongoing engagement and security cooperation
activities. Such activities now include military operations in support
of the War on Terrorism; counterdrug operations; military training and
exercises; and professionalization of the regions militaries emphasizing
the role of the military in a democratic society, respect for human rights,
and the protection of civil liberties.
The true test of
a nations democracy and military professionalism, however, is how
well that nation endures crisis. Many Latin American and Caribbean nations
are currently experiencing political, economic, and social crisis and
never before have their militaries demonstrated such restraint and support
for their elected civilian leadership.
While much is going
right in the region, there still is much that is discouraging. Millions
of Latin Americans remain mired in poverty, living in urban slums or neglected
rural areas with crumbling infrastructure, inadequate sanitation, little
access to proper health care, and perhaps most tragically, minimal educational
opportunities for their children. Some telling statistics illustrate the
magnitude of the economic crisis now facing the region. According to the
United Nations Economic Commission on Latin America and Caribbean (ECLAC),
214 million people in the region, 44 percent of the population, live below
the poverty level. Seven million people were added to the ranks of the
poor in 2002, and 20 percent of the regions population is unable
to provide for even their most basic food needs. Developmental assistance
and international investment are inhibited by the lack of security in
the region. These figures illustrate in very real terms the enormous challenges
faced by our democratic allies in the region.
In recent years,
economic desperation and volatile social environments in the hemisphere
have set the conditions for the proliferation of international terrorism,
narcoterrorism, illegal drugs, and arms trafficking. This is the crux
of my concern and my responsibility. Unless and until Latin American and
Caribbean governments can provide both security and stability and a reasonable
opportunity for positive change in the lives of their citizens, these
activities will continue to fester and grow and the foundations of democracy
could crumble under the weight of these transnational threats.
Terrorism in the
The War on Terrorism is our number one priority. The events of September
11, 2001 provided a cruel and graphic illustration of the evils of terrorists
and their ability to attack at a time and place of their choosing. The
recent El Nogal nightclub bombing in Bogotá, Colombia, in which
at least 35 people were killed and 173 wounded is just one example of
the incessant terrorist attacks in that country. Last years bombing
outside the U.S. Embassy in Peru by the Shining Path is an indication
that terrorist groups in the region are deliberately targeting U.S. citizens
and interests. Economic deprivation, political instability, rampant corruption,
drug trafficking, and paralyzed judicial systems are breeding grounds
for terrorists and coupled with Latin Americas proximity to the
U.S, increase our vulnerability to attack from the southern approaches
to our homeland.
To complement Homeland
Security efforts and seal the seams through which terrorists infiltrate,
we must take comprehensive measures in our region to combat international
terrorism. To effectively prosecute the War on Terrorism, we must have
the authority to use our assets and subordinate commands to assist partner
nations interdict those illicit activities that support terrorists throughout
our area of responsibility. To strengthen capabilities, build coalitions,
and ensure our allies can effectively defeat terrorist activities within
their borders, we must continue to provide partner nation security forces
with equipment and continue to train with them in bilateral and multilateral
exercises. Promoting security and effective border defense in every nation
of our area of responsibility denies terrorists operating locations, support
structures, freedom of movement, and the financial underpinnings from
drug trafficking for their destructive activities.
and narcoterrorists, fueled by drug and arms traffickers, menace our region.
While the primary front in the War on Terrorism currently lies elsewhere,
Southern Command plays an important supporting role. Radical Islamic Groups
operating out of the region use the profits from drug, human, and arms
trafficking, false documentation, and other illicit activities in our
hemisphere to fund their worldwide operations. The narcoterrorist organizations
operating primarily out of Colombia are spreading their reach throughout
the region, wreaking havoc, and destabilizing legitimate governments.
It is these organizational networks that remain our focus.
Middle Eastern based
terrorist groups to include Hamas, Hizballah and Islamiyya al Gammat have
networks and support structures throughout the region. These cells, extending
from South America through Central America and the Caribbean, consist
not only of logistics and support personnel, but also of terrorists who
have participated in attacks in the Middle East. Radical Islamic supporters
have long gathered in areas such as the Tri-border region between Paraguay,
Brazil, and Argentina, known for its deep links to a full range of transnational
criminal activities. Similarly, we continue to be concerned by possible
activities of radical Islamic groups on Margarita Island in Venezuela
and Maicao, Colombia. Precise estimates of the amount of money diverted
to from the region to radical Islamic groups are difficult to determine
due to the illicit nature of the activity, however, the figures are likely
in the hundreds of millions of dollars annually.
In the Tri-border
area, a raid in the fall of 2001, on the business of a local Hizballah
leader revealed terrorist training videos and audiotapes extolling the
virtues of Jihad. He admitted having ties to businesses in Miami, New
York, Chile, Brazil, and Paraguay leaving open the question of
his involvement in terrorist efforts to penetrate the United States or
pass money to terrorist groups.
Last year, Paraguay
arrested and tried several important Islamic radicals. Hizballah financial
chief, Sohbi Fayad, was convicted on charges of tax evasion and local
extremist, Ali Dahrough, is awaiting trial. Paraguay awaits the extradition
of Hizballah Tri-border chief, Assad Barakat, from Brazil to face similar
charges. These actions against convicted and alleged terrorists, and those
who support them, produce important disruptions of terrorists networks.
Similar efforts are
needed throughout the region to neutralize the Islamic radical structure
while upholding the rights of law-abiding Muslims. Building coalitions,
training, equipping forces, and improving capabilities will enable allies
to significantly reduce their ungoverned spaces and gain greater control
of their borders. These efforts produce skills, which are tested in U.S.
sponsored multilateral exercises that promote security, improve effective
border control, deny terrorists safe havens, and restrict their ability
most pervasive in Colombia where citizens suffer daily from murder, bombings,
kidnappings, and lawlessness. However, narcoterrorism is spreading increasingly
throughout the region. Narcoterrorist groups are involved in kidnappings
in Panama, Venezuela, Ecuador and Paraguay. They smuggle weapons and drugs
in Brazil, Suriname, Guyana, Mexico, and Peru, are making inroads in Bolivia,
and use the same routes and infrastructure for drugs, arms, illegal aliens
and other illicit activities. The narcoterrorists are very well financed
by their involvement in every aspect of drug cultivation and production,
kidnapping,, and extortion. These drug-fueled terrorist groups with their
ideologically appealing names -- the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia
or FARC, the National Liberation Army or ELN, and the United Defense Forces
or AUC -- directly attack the legitimate authority of the Colombian government.
Ideology is no longer the moving force it once was for these organizations.
Today, they are motivated by money, and power, and protecting, and sustaining
themselves through drug trafficking and terror. The arrest last year in
Houston, Texas of an AUC operative arranging an exchange of $25 million
worth of drugs for arms is a clear indication of the symbiotic relationship
among terrorists, drugs, and arms traffickers. The re-emergence of the
Shining Path in Peru is being fueled by their involvement in the drug
negatively impacts the environment. Over four million hectares of rain
forest have been destroyed in order to plant coca. Forty eight thousand
metric tons of precursor chemicals used in coca production per year, are
dumped into the environment. Terrorist pipeline attacks have spilled three
million gallons of oil, the equivalent of twelve Exxon Valdez.
Underlying all of
this is the illegal drug industry a scourge that constantly threatens
the sovereignty, stability, and rule of law in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Drug traffickers generate violence, foster crime, fuel gangs, and corrupt
public institutions. The Drug Enforcement Administration believes that
a substantial number of foreign terrorist organizations are trafficking
in large amounts of narcotics six of these organizations are operating
in this hemisphere. In addition to all three of the Colombian terrorist
groups, the Shining Path, Jamaat Al Musilmeen, and Hizballah generate
revenues through the drug trafficking business.
According to the
Office of the National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), over 19,000 Americans
die annually from drug-induced causes. This constitutes, in my mind, a
weapon of mass destruction. If we define national security as the safety
and well being of our citizenry, illegal drugs must be considered a major
national security concern.
not only threatens the security of the United States, but also the survival
of democratic allies in the region through unabated violence, terror,
and corruption, while forcing these countries to devote precious resources
to address these problems. Additionally, as traffickers exchange drugs
for arms and services in the transit countries, transit nations become
drug consumers as well. Brazil provides an illustration of how such an
evolution can occur; it is now the second largest consumer of cocaine
in the world behind the United States. While partner nations are willing
to work with us to develop regional approaches to counter the production
and trafficking of illegal drugs, effective and sustainable counterdrug
operations severely test the capabilities of their thinly stretched security
A nearly unchecked
flow of illegal arms throughout the region poses another serious threat
to the security of several nations and exacerbates terrorist violence
throughout the region. Many of these arms are leftover from the regions
civil wars, while others are from former Soviet bloc countries or even
purchased legally in the United States. They are then shipped through
the regions porous borders destined to the terrorist organizations
in Colombia or gangs elsewhere, often in exchange for drugs. Arms traffickers
use a variety of land, maritime, and air routes that often mirror drug
and human trafficking routes.
daily from a level of violence and terror practically unimaginable to
us. In this war-torn country, a decades-old conflict waged by narcoterrorists
and fueled by illicit drug money continues unabated, claiming thousands
of lives. More than 1.5 million Colombians have been displaced from their
homes by war, terror, and violence. Last year there were more terrorist
attacks in Colombia -- an average of four per day -- than in all other
nations of the world combined. Colombia has the highest homicide rate
in the world. Last year more than 28,000 Colombians were murdered -- 13
times the U.S. rate -- making homicide the most likely cause of death.
More than 2,900 Colombians were kidnapped, also the highest rate in the
world. Violence has become so endemic that a Colombian company now specializes
in bulletproof vests for children.
Many familiar with
Colombias conflict romantically describe the illegal groups as revolutionaries,
guerrillas, or rebels. These terms are inaccurate
and out of date. The FARC, ELN, and AUC, directly challenge the legitimate
authority of the Colombian Government, yet offer no alternative form of
government. Simply put, these are narcoterrorists who profit at the expense
of Colombia and its people.
All three of these
groups target elected government officials and the civilian population
with their brutal attacks. International human rights groups have publicly
denounced the massacres, assassinations, political kidnappings, forced
displacements, and forced recruitment of minors by all three groups. Human
rights groups have also denounced the FARCs use of illegal weapons
to attack protected sites and civilian institutions such as the May 2002
battle between the FARC and AUC, in which a FARC mortar fell attack on
a church in Bojayá, killing more than 100 people, many of them
children. The FARCs latest innovation of forcing kidnapped individuals
to drive bomb-laden cars on suicide missions represents yet another step
in the downward spiral toward the terrorists total disregard for
the sanctity of human life. Attempting to protect Colombians from this
lawlessness is a paralyzed judicial system in which 97 percent of crimes
go unpunished and three million cases remain backlogged.
In the face of these
enormous challenges, President Álvaro Uribe is vigorously proceeding
with changes to reform the nations political and legal systems,
promote socio-economic development, protect human rights, provide help
to displaced persons, enlarge and professionalize the security forces,
and combat narcoterrorism. I have traveled to Colombia nine times and
am impressed by President Uribe and his strong and principled teams
determination to defeat the forces that are ripping his country apart.
initiatives are solidly supported by internal control and legislative
measures designed to hold military members responsible for their own actions.
Education and training initiatives, including human rights training implemented
by the Colombian Ministry of Defense, have produced some of the best-trained
and most professional military personnel in Colombias history. Allegations
of human rights violations by the military have dropped to less than two
percent of all allegations, and today the Colombian military is one of
the most respected organizations in the nation.
the worlds leading producer of cocaine and accounts for 90 percent
of the U.S. supply. Furthermore, we are seeing a surge in poppy cultivation
and heroin production in Colombia. While Colombias heroin production
is a modest eight metric tons per year, virtually all of it is smuggled
into the U.S
Although it has the
political will to fight drug traffickers, Ecuador remains a significant
transshipment country for illicit drugs and is the country most vulnerable
to spillover from Colombia. Economic limitations and security concerns
hamper Ecuadors ability to strengthen border control operations.
Ecuador is host to one of the Southern Commands Forward Operating
Locations (FOL) in Manta. The FOL has proven to be an effective launch
site and critical element in our source zone counterdrug operations. This
FOL provides coverage in the eastern Pacific where we have seen the greatest
increase in drug smuggling activity. Runway improvement, construction
of living quarters, and maintenance facility projects were completed in
2002. Continued infrastructure improvement will ensure the airfield meets
U.S. operations and safety standards. Mantas substantial contributions
to counterdrug efforts will become even more valuable with the resumption
of the Air Bridge Denial Program in Colombia. The effectiveness of the
Air Bridge Denial Program is unquestionable. The incorporation of additional
safety measures will facilitate the resumption of this program, which
will improve our ability to assist Colombia in its efforts to interdict
the flow of illegal drugs.
to deteriorate with its declining per capita income, financial crisis,
increased instability, violence, and crime. Despite this political and
societal crisis, the U.S-Venezuelan military contacts continue with Venezuelan
military students attending U.S. schools. We have a longstanding institutional
relationship with the Venezuelan military and will continue to pursue
common security concerns, as long as the military remains within its constitutional
In the Caribbean
the primary challenge comes from narcotrafficking and the corruption that
accompanies it. With the exception of Haiti, democratic institutions remain
relatively stable but the police and security forces are often overwhelmed
or outgunned by the resources of drug traffickers and others engaging
in illicit activity. The significant economic slowdown in the Caribbean
provides a fertile environment for the corruption of government and security
personnel as well as the proliferation of drug trafficking and other illicit
activities. To meet these challenges regional governments are attempting
to focus on cooperative efforts such as the Regional Security System (RSS)
and CARICOM. There is a growing understanding among Caribbean leaders
that leveraging each others limited resources is the only way to
deal with the threats they face. Our efforts are focused on supporting
these cooperative approaches.
Haiti stands out
in the area of responsibility for its total political and economic paralysis.
The government has refused to implement both the economic and political
reforms essential for garnering vital support from the international community.
Without fundamental changes in both the political and economic sphere,
Haiti will continue to stagnate.
A key element of
our efforts in the Caribbean is the uniquely focused Tradewinds exercise.
Conducted annually, Tradewinds exercise objectives focus on combating
transnational threats, counter drug operations, and disaster preparedness.
This years exercise will consist of two phases hosted respectively
by Jamaica and Barbados.
We are at a unique
point in time in Central America, with most of the regions political
and military leaders dedicated to overcoming historical border differences
and tensions in order to pursue regional economic and military integration.
Southern Command has a long history of providing security cooperation
to Central American nations with a regional focus on disaster response,
humanitarian and civic assistance, demining, peacekeeping, and counterdrug
operations. Arms trafficking, originating with arms left over from the
civil wars of the 1980s not only threaten this region but flow southward
to Colombia. This region is also a primary avenue for illegal migrants
and drugs entering the United States. Especially troublesome is the situation
in Guatemala. The administration has proven to be an unreliable partner
in countering drug trafficking and according to the Inter-American Commission
on Human Rights, there were more than 100 attacks against human rights
workers in Guatemala last year.
Central America is
therefore key to our counterdrug and counter terrorist efforts, which
include regional operations to strengthen capabilities and foster cooperation
within nations of the region. We are working more closely with the Organization
of Central American Armed Forces (CFAC) to promote military integration
and cooperation in maintaining regional security. El Salvador provides
Southern Command the use of Comalapa Airport as a Forward Operating Location
for counterdrug coverage throughout Central America, the eastern Pacific,
and the western Caribbean. Joint Task Force Bravo in Honduras continues
to provide a logistical support base to the critical humanitarian missions
of the region, as well as counterdrug operations through support of Central
Military to military
engagement in the Southern Cone remains strong. Argentina remains in the
grip of economic crisis. Recent estimates indicate that 19 million, or
53 percent of Argentines are living below the poverty line. In the midst
of this crisis, the Argentine military remains a strong partner for the
U.S. in the region and has carved out a useful role in U.N. peacekeeping
operations and support for the War on Terrorism. Argentine military leaders
strongly support democracy and the constitution and serve as a voice of
restraint and respect for the democratic process. Southern Command continues
its military-to-military contact program with the Argentinean Armed Forces
and expects this sustained cooperation will continue in the future.
Crime in Brazil,
especially urban gang violence, remains a serious problem, and President
Lula da Silva faces challenges from illicit drug and arms
traffickers. Thus far, cooperation with the new Brazilian administration
and the Brazilian military continues seamlessly.
economic difficulties, Chiles economy remains on firm footing and
offers appreciated stability in the Southern Cone. Transparency International
rates Chile as one of the least corrupt nations in the world. The United
States has recognized this by concluding a Free Trade Agreement with Chile,
the first nation in the region after Mexico. We look forward to a growing
and cooperative relationship with Chile and its armed forces.
War on Terrorism
As mentioned earlier,
terrorists throughout the region bomb, murder, kidnap, traffic drugs,
and smuggle arms among other illicit activities. Southern Command trains,
equips and builds allied nation capabilities to confront terrorists, control
borders, deny safe havens, and prevent terrorists from operating with
impunity. Interagency cooperation, improving Colombian military capabilities,
conducting detention operations, the use of expanded authority, and security
cooperation are among the tools we employ. With the inextricable link
between terrorists, drugs, and arms trafficking, counterdrug and arms
interdiction operations are critical to our efforts. Joint Interagency
Task Force East (JIATF-E) is integral to our operations.
Inter Agency Cooperation
JIATF-East began as an interagency coordinator of maritime counterdrug
operations in the transit zone. Today, after merging with JIATF-S, collocating
in Key West, Florida, assuming responsibility for the source zone, and
adding international members to their staff, JIATF-East provides planning
assistance for counterdrug operations in response to U.S. country teams
throughout the region. Transit zone operations may or may not involve
U.S. forces, but our forces do participate in planning operations supported
by the U.S.
Responding to Secretary
Rumsfelds guidance to participate in a Joint Interagency Coordination
Group, Southern Command meets monthly to focus on the War on Terrorism
with representatives from the Department of Treasury, Drug Enforcement
Agency, Department of State, Department of Homeland Security, and Department
of Defense. The Joint Interagency Coordination Group is also a venue for
sharing intelligence and effectively coordinating our regional counterterrorism
The Andean Counterdrug
Initiative, a complement to Plan Colombia, concentrates on the region
rather than on Colombia alone. Success in Colombia could produce a spillover
into neighboring countries that may not be prepared to deal with the consequences.
These countries remain transshipment points for arms, drugs, and precursor
chemicals entering and exiting Colombia. While success in Colombia is
essential, we cannot risk winning the battle in Colombia and losing the
war in the region. The Andean Counterdrug Initiative is intended to contain
the effects of spillover and, to a lesser degree, sustain the success
of Plan Colombia.
assistance programs are intended to help Colombia develop the capabilities
to solve their security problems and diminish the U.S in-theatre role.
Military training of Colombian units that are vetted for human rights
abuses is key to realizing success on the battlefield. The training of
the Counter Narcotics Brigade and the establishment and training of a
Commando Battalion to pursue enemy leadership have already produced results.
U.S. Special Forces
have also been training Colombian Armed Forces in Arauca as part of an
infrastructure security strategy to protect a portion of the 772-kilometer
pipeline and other critical infrastructure points, that have been frequent
targets of terrorist attacks. This training will enable Colombia to protect
remote narcoterrorist influenced areas of the countryside where the pipeline
is located. The oil carried by the pipeline represents annual revenues
of about 500 million dollars for the Colombian Government. The loss of
this revenue seriously undermines Colombias fiscal health and the
attacks create considerable environmental and ecological damage.
In addition to its
work in Central and South America, Southern Command has directly and actively
supported the War on Terrorism by establishing a terrorist detention and
intelligence operations facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in January 2002.
Intelligence operations at Guantanamo have provided critical information
regarding terrorist organizations leadership, planned attacks, potential
attacks, and other specific information that has already thwarted terrorist
activities. As Guantanamo operations continue, we will improve intelligence
exploitation, collection and dissemination, and establish more permanent
facilities to provide Servicemembers a better quality of life.
We combined Joint
Task Force 160 and 170 to form Joint Task Force Guantanamo, achieving
unity of command and ensuring improved coordination between the intelligence
collection mission and camp operations. Detainees continue to receive
medical care, three meals daily that meet Muslim dietary laws, clothing,
permanent shelter, showers, and humane treatment consistent with the provisions
of the Geneva Convention.
Appropriations Act of 2002 and the Fiscal Year 2003 Defense Appropriations
Act included provisions to use counterdrug assets for non-counterdrug
missions within these respective years. The granting of expanded authority
for operations was an important recognition that it is impossible to separate
the drug threat from the threat to security and stability raised by terrorist
organizations such as the FARC, ELN, and AUC. Operations are more efficient
and effective because the same assets are used to confront terrorists
as well as drug traffickers. We can now share more intelligence with Colombia,
and they can use counterdrug-funded assets in the combined campaign against
terrorists and drug production and trafficking. A great example of success
as a result of expanded authority is the killing of the FARCs 15th
Front Commander by the Colombian military utilizing U.S. provided UH-1
helicopters flown by Colombian pilots.
security cooperation activities expand United States influence, assure
friends, and dissuade potential adversaries. The overarching goals are
to promote regional security and stability through training, equipping,
and developing allied security force capabilities that improve competence
and professionalism while underscoring respect for human rights.
are also intended to strengthen respect for the rule of law, civilian
control of the military, and support for democratic ideals. We do this
not only because it is in tune with the highest values of the American
people, but also because it is a strategic, operational, and tactical
necessity. Security forces must enjoy the trust and confidence of their
people before they can be effective. Only by respecting the law and the
dignity of all the citizens they are sworn to defend, can security forces
hope to gain the respect of those they protect.
We annually coordinate
and direct more than 30 legal engagement activities among military counterparts,
regional governments, and non-government organizations. Specific accomplishments
include the creation of a legal corps, reform of military justice codes
and procedures, human rights and law of war education, and the inclusion
of military lawyers in the planning and execution of military operations.
Nowhere are the positive results of these efforts more apparent than in
Colombia where the people now hold their military in high esteem.
training are disaster relief programs that teach militaries how to respond
to their civilian authorities when disasters occur. Fuerzas Aliadas is
the cornerstone of this program and will be hosted by Nicaragua this year.
More than 20 nations will participate, including our regional partners,
Canada, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and France.
Beyond disaster relief,
New Horizons exercises provide unique and rigorous training opportunities
to engineer, medical, and civil affairs units. These activities hone U.S.
forces engineering and medical skills in a challenging environment,
under conditions nearly impossible to replicate in the U.S.
Last year the New
Horizon exercises completed 33 engineer projects consisting of schools,
medical clinics, wells, and rudimentary road construction and repair.
The 59 humanitarian medical deployments treated more than 680,000 patients.
During these deployments, our veterinary teams treated approximately 67,000
animals in varying livestock categories, which contributed significantly
to sustaining local economic health. Bolivia, Panama, Belize, Dominican
Republic, Grenada, and St. Kitts will host New Horizons exercises this
The annual naval
exercise, UNITAS, is conducted throughout the region with significant
participation by several countries. This year, Ecuador will host the UNITAS
Pacific Phase. Argentina is scheduled to host UNITAS Cruise 04 Atlantic
Phase in October. An amphibious bilateral exercise between the U.S. and
Argentina is scheduled for September. Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru will
each conduct a bi-lateral amphibious exercise with participating U.S.
This year the Central
American nations will host several exercises to include PEACEKEEPING OPERATION
(PKO) NORTH that will focus on enhancing the peacekeeping skills and capabilities
of the 22 participating nations. All the Central American countries and
the majority of Caribbean nations will participate. We will also conduct
PKO SOUTH and Cabanas to strengthen the peacekeeping skills, cooperation,
and capabilities of the rest of the regions military forces.
As the War on Terrorism
progresses we will increasingly pursue operations of mutual interest with
goals that increase interoperability with our allies. We will pool our
resources to the extent possible, but we foresee additional threats to
U.S. security interests that may require additional resources or the reprioritization
of programmed funds, if circumstances warrant. We anticipate Guantanamos
operating tempo to increase, additional stress on our theater communications
architecture, an escalation of detection and monitoring activities, and
a greater need for interoperability of allied nations that will require
Foreign Military Financing programs and a renewal of the expanded authorities.
Joint Task Force
requirements for JTF-Guantanamo detainee operations are necessary to enhance
our effectiveness in the War on Terrorism, but as we continue to improve
our mission capabilities there will be a cost associated with the progress.
Since January 2002, Guantanamo has provided, and continues to provide,
critical intelligence information on worldwide terrorist organizations
leadership, planned attacks, potential targets, and other critical information
that can thwart subversive activities. We anticipate the arrival of additional
detainees to be secured, screened, held, managed, and interrogated for
both counterterrorist planning and law enforcement purposes. Manpower
requirements will also increase to ensure a safe and secure facility.
Communications and Computers (C4)
My next priority
deals with enhancing our C4 architecture for fixed and mobile operations
throughout the region as outlined in previous testimonies. The current
C4 infrastructure lacks the flexibility to execute the assigned mission
due to over reliance on inadequate commercial communications systems,
limited communications bandwidth, and fragmented operations and maintenance
support. Consequently, Southern Command is unable to effectively and efficiently
support a counterdrug mission simultaneously with another contingency
operation such as anti-terrorism, noncombatant evacuation, migrant operations,
disaster relief, or defense of the Panama Canal.
Since existing military
systems alone are insufficient, it is my intention to transform, expand,
and maintain a cost-effective, efficient, centrally managed, and robust
infrastructure that supports the Theater Security Cooperation Strategy.
This strategy includes counter-terrorism operations, regional engagement,
crisis response, and counterdrug missions. We are partnering with the
Defense Information Systems Agency and the Department of States
Diplomatic Telecommunications Service Program Office to explore commercial
alternatives such as fiber optic communication links. This effort shows
promise for improving C4 effectiveness throughout the region.
Detection and Monitoring
We conduct varied
and diverse detection and monitoring (D&M) operations that require
a high state of readiness and a joint effort to link multi-intelligence
collectors targeted against strategic, operational, and tactical requirements.
This melding of organic and national collection resources will improve
operations and fulfill the Quarterly Defense Review Transformation requirement
for continuous and persistent Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance
role in Operation ENDURING FREEDOM includes the employment of national,
airborne, ground, and maritime ISR assets that are targeted against regional
terrorist groups and transnational support cells. Their combined products
create a common operating picture of regional activity that can be shared
with our allies as appropriate. Successful D&M operations contribute
to allied nations defenses against terrorism and promote regional
Detection and monitoring
has eight major programs that are vital to our counterdrug campaign plan.
These programs include Relocatable Over the Horizon Radar (ROTHR), Fleet
Support Operations, Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA), FOLs, JIATF-East,
Joint Surveillance and Reconnaissance Operations Center (JSSROC), Hemispheric
Radar System (HRS), and South Air Force Support. These programs, when
sufficiently funded, will provide a formidable capability to detect and
monitor illicit trafficking of arms, drugs and other illegal activities
that fuel terrorist groups. Overall, this capability further provides
critical information used by the U.S. and host nations to effectively
counter the expansion of narcoterrorism.
Financing fosters cooperative security arrangements, and regional initiatives
rely on partner nation participation. Many nations rely, in turn, on FMF
to sustain the kind of readiness that effective partnering requires. Latin
American and Caribbean militaries still have legitimate defense sustainment
and modernization requirements. As we request more partner nation assistance
in fighting terrorism and transnational threats, FMF will be an important
source of their equipping and training efforts. Regional militaries require
force modernization to be interoperable. Without FMF support and adequate
national funding, training, and maintenance, equipment in Latin American
forces continues to deteriorate, which degrades allied military readiness,
increases the cost of U.S. participation, reduces the capability of our
hemispheric partners in the War on Terrorism, and makes military responses
to natural disasters and humanitarian relief more difficult.
As previously mentioned,
operations today are more efficient and effective because the same assets
are used to confront both drug traffickers and terrorists, thanks to the
expanded authority. The authority also permits greater intelligence sharing
and allows allied nations to use U.S. counterdrug funded equipment for
non-counterdrug missions. Expanded Authority is essential to the commands
ability to deal with both narcotraffickers and terrorists. The authorities
granted in Fiscal Year 02 and Fiscal Year 03 were one-year programs confined
to Colombia. Because of the successes we have experienced in both intelligence
sharing and improving operations, we are requesting Expanded Authority
for the entire area of responsibility in Fiscal Year 04.
democracy has gained a foothold in Latin America. The question is how
long will it prevail? Until ordinary citizens benefit from free market
reforms and reduced corruption and until terrorists can no longer operate
with relative impunity, that question will linger. For most nations in
our area of responsibility, the threats come from within. It will be up
to those nations to demonstrate their ability to govern; to provide law
and order, implement judicial reform, and develop a profound respect for
human rights. These fundamentals provide the stable and secure environment
necessary for economic growth growth that will improve the quality
of life for ordinary citizens. Southern Command will play a crucial role
in developing the kinds of security forces that help provide the ability
to govern throughout the region, and particularly in Colombia.
We are at a critical
time in Colombias history. The elected government of President Uribe
enjoys unparalleled approval ratings of about 70 percent. Under his leadership,
the Army is helping to regain control of urban neighborhoods long since
held by narcoterrorists. Colombias citizens are taking a more active
role in their nations defense, providing actionable intelligence
to the Colombian Armed Forces. President Uribe has raised taxes to provide
greater resources to his nations security forces. There is a renewed
sense of momentum, commitment, and hope as the Colombian people struggle
to save their country, but there is also a small window of opportunity
beyond which public opinion and support will wane without significant
I would like to close
by leaving the committee with this thought. I am proud to say we do a
great deal to further our nations interests in this hemisphere with
very few resources and a modest presence. Beyond Colombia, we are at a
critical point where the progress in eliminating conflict, reducing tension,
and establishing democracy throughout the region could be at risk if we
are not steadfast in our efforts. While our attention is drawn to another
region of the world, we must keep in mind that we live in this hemisphere,
and its continued progress as a region of democracy and prosperity is
of paramount importance to our national security.
I would like to thank
the Chairman and the Members of the committee for this great opportunity
and for the tremendous support you have provided this command. I can assure
you that the men and women of the United States Southern Command appreciate
all that you do for them as they perform their noble work for our great
As of April 2, 2003,
this document was also available online at http://www.house.gov/hasc/openingstatementsandpressreleases/108thcongress/03-03-12hill.html