Venezuela, Border Security and SOUTHCOM Posture

It’s an “invasion” they proclaim as Donald Trump fans the flame of hate through his border security narrative. Fox News has reporters reporting on the “dangerous” border almost every night. The United States is under siege blare the Alt-Right talking heads. The military needs to be deployed henceforth they all collectively proclaim arguing that the American way of life is about to be destroyed. Well, that is after they talk about the rise of socialism within the dangerous Democrats, at least in their minds.

Lucky for us, the United States has a professional bureaucracy that shields the country from the politics of people like Donald Trump.

SOUTHCOM, or the United States Southern Command, is one of America’s ten Unified Combat Commands responsible for the security of the country from adversaries emanating from the Caribbean, Central and South America. In other words, they prepare to defend America from the dangers from south of the border.

With all the Trump rhetoric of the dangers on the border one would think that SOUTHCOM is on a war footing ready to meet the dangerous situation. So is it?

It is important to remember that the leadership of SOUTHCOM is subservient to Donald Trump and therefore it would support Trump’s national security agenda.

SOUTHCOM Commander, Admiral Craig S. Faller delivered a “Posture Statement” to Congress on February 7. Commands in the United States offer Congress summaries of their roles, missions, plans and programs for planning purposes and for future funding. These self-assessments are known as posture statements.

SOUTHCOM’s posture statement offers us a look at what dangers the military sees from the southern border. In the latest report, SOUTHCOM sees a “troubling array of challenges and threats to global security” and to America’s “homeland”. Among the challenges are “natural and man-made disasters, weak government institutions, corruption, under-resourced security organizations, violent crime, criminal organizations, and violent extremist cells.”

The report adds that “China has accelerated expansion of its Belt and Road Initiative at a pace” in South America that “may overshadow its expansion” in Asia. The Chinese Belt and Road Initiative is a modern-day “silk road” investment and infrastructure projects that are intended to make China the dominant global trading center. China has signed up 152 countries to its initiative, including Canada. One of the projects that the initiative is working on is a hydropower plant in Argentina. China has targeted the rest of Latin America with its initiatives.

México is not one of them and has rebuffed calls to join in.

Another adversary identified by SOUTHCOM is Russia. The report points out that Russia “supports multiple information outlets spreading its false narrative of world events and U.S. intentions” south of the U.S. border. Iran’s “anti-U.S. Spanish language coverage” is also mentioned by the report which added that Iran “has exported its state support for terrorism” into the American hemisphere.

SOUTHCOM reported on several cooperation partnerships with Latin American countries in its report. Among them are Brazil signing the “Space Situational Awareness Agreement” and the efforts of various countries with the Joint Interagency Task Force South (JIATF-S). The report credited the cooperating countries in JIATF-S with “contributing to nearly half of the successful drug seizures” last year.

The report points out that “Russia continues to use Latin America and the Caribbean to spread disinformation, collect intelligence on the United States, and project power.” The report adds that Russia deployed “two nuclear capable bombers” in the Western Hemisphere as a “show of force to the United States.”

The Russian bombers were deployed to Venezuela.

The report continues that China’s and particularly Russia’s activities in Latin America gives them “foothold close” to the American homeland.

SOUTHCOM told Congress that it needs support for its littoral ships, HUMINT and recognizance assets to complete its mission. More importantly, SOUTHCOM argues in its report that its “support of programs and capabilities that help build trust and long-term relationships with” partner countries south of the border “enhances our ability to defend the homeland.”

Clearly SOUTHCOM sees no serious military dangers south of the border that could threaten the United States. Yet, Donald Trump argues that border is in “crisis” and that the United States may need to intervene in Venezuela. In the case of Venezuela, America has limited capabilities with which to topple the Maduro regime militarily.

As recent evidenced, the Venezuelan military remains firmly behind the Maduro dictatorship. As long as this remains true, the United States does not have the military resources to intervene, other than long-range strategic bombing raids and covert special forces operations.

Outright boots on the ground is not possible without reallocating U.S. military assets away from their current missions. There are no aircraft carriers under the command of SOUTHCOM currently. Only a few thousand troops and a small group of warships are available to SOUTHCOM as its mission is building relationships with partners rather than preparing for war south of the border.

America’s major military assets are deterring Chinese and Russian military ambitions elsewhere and redeploying them to support SOUTHCOM would further deteriorate America’s force projection capabilities.

Proof of the dichotomy between SOUTHCOM’s stated mission and Donald Trump’s rhetoric of a crisis on the border or in Venezuela is best proved by the recent disarming of two U.S. soldiers on the border by Mexican military personal on the United States side of the border.

The two American soldiers “tactically” disarmed by Mexican soldiers before the two U.S. soldiers could push the emergency button to summon help in an emergency. By the time the two American soldiers realized that the Mexicans were there, they were disarmed and ordered out of their vehicle.

Donald Trump argues that the “dangerous” border situation demands that the military be deployed. There are around 3,000 military personnel currently at the border. But the rules under which the military is operating on the border limits their ability to use weapons because it is operating as a “humanitarian” mission. NORTHCOM has ruled that there is no military threat on the U.S.-México border.

In other words, two American soldiers were disarmed by the Mexican military because they are operating in support of civilian forces instead of on a homeland defense mission.

Trump’s political rhetoric has created an ambiguous mission for the soldiers on the border because he lies for political purposes putting American soldiers in dangerous situations that they are not prepared to respond to appropriately.

While SOUTHCOM tries to build relationships within its sphere of influence to deal with China, Iran, Russia and Venezuela, Donald Trump continues to endanger American troops with his continued lies.

Advertisements