PENTAGON - U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) plans to increase U.S. military presence in the Western Hemisphere while taking on funding cuts to partner security programs that help Latin American partners counter drug cartels.
In written testimony Wednesday, SOUTHCOM commander Admiral Craig Faller said the U.S. “only enabled the successful interdiction of about 9% of known drug movement” recently in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Faller told the House Armed Services Committee that he'd need significant assets to drastically improve that number, including dozens of ships. “Recognizing these complex challenges in our neighborhood, we will see an increase in U.S. military presence in the hemisphere,” Faller said, speaking to reporters at the Pentagon after the briefing.
The increase, which is coinciding with a Pentagon review of the command, will include more ships, aircraft and forces, said Faller, who declined to discuss numbers. But the increase will not be enough to fully counter the threats, which is “why it's so important to get partners in the game," Faller added.
Last year, half of U.S. drug interdictions in the region were enabled by local partner forces, according to SOUTHCOM.
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