Ex-SOUTHCOM commanders: Cutting aid to Central America will only make border problem 'more costly'

news
Dept. of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen visits the San Luis II Commercial Port of Entry in Arizona. During Secretary Nielsen's visit she met with the Governor of Arizona, Doug Ducey and members from the National Guard. Secretary Nielsen toured the Border Wall between the United States and Mexico near the port. (U.S. Customs and Border Protection/Mani Albrecht)

Five former commanders of U.S. Southern Command have warned in an open letter that cutting aid to Central America will only make matters worse on America's southern border.

"As former Commanders of U.S. Southern Command, we have seen firsthand that the challenges in the region cannot be solved by the military alone but require strengthening investments in development and diplomacy," the commanders wrote, in a letter released Monday by the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition.


It was signed by Army Gen. Barry McCaffrey (Ret.), commander from 1994 to 1996; Marine Gen. Charles Wilhelm (Ret.), commander from 1997 to 2000; Army Gen. James Hill (Ret.), commander from 2002 to 2004, Army Gen. Bantz Craddock (Ret.), commander from 2004 to 2006, and Navy Adm. James Stavridis (Ret.), commander from 2006 to 2009.

The letter comes in response to the State Department's recent announcement that it would end hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign assistance to El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras — countries where many migrants have fled violence or poverty and headed north to seek asylum.

The State Department had requested about $183 million in aid for those three countries in 2019, mainly focused on economic development, governance, and education. Assistance in the region addresses a variety of challenges, a June 2018 State Department release said, such as "security, governance, and economic drivers of illegal immigration and illicit trafficking."

For example, according to State, foreign aid to this "Northern Triangle" contributed to $92.2 million in exports and created over 29,000 jobs in Central America in 2017. The release also touted U.S. support that led to reductions in violence and arrests of gang members.

"We know that if we invest at the scale of the problem, it works because we've seen it work in Colombia, where a sustained comprehensive civilian-military effort helped Colombians end the longest conflict in the Western Hemisphere and transform their country into a key security and trading partner," the letter from the former commanders said.

On the flip side, the U.S. spent $18.9 billion on border security and immigration enforcement in 2017, according to a White House fact sheet.

"Improving conditions in Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador is a critical way to address the root causes of migration and prevent the humanitarian crisis at our border. This is a solution to many of the drivers that cause people to leave their country and move north. Cutting aid to the region will only increase the drivers and will be even more costly to deal with on our border."

SEE ALSO: A sitting congressman has been deployed to the US-Mexico border

An Austrian Jagdkommando K9 unit conducts training (Austrian Armed Forces photo)

An Austrian soldier was apparently killed by two military working dogs that he was charged with feeding, the Austrian Ministry of Defense announced on Thursday.

Read More Show Less

Conflict photographer Lynsey Addario has seen a hell of a lot of combat over the past twenty years. She patrolled Afghanistan's Helmand Province with the Marines, accompanied the Army on night raids in Baghdad, took artillery fire with rebel fighters in Libya, and has taken photos in countless other wars and humanitarian disasters around the world.

Along the way, Addario captured images of plenty of women serving with pride in uniform, not only in the U.S. armed forces, but also on the battlefields of Syria, Colombia, South Sudan and Israel. Her photographs are the subject of a new article in the November 2019 special issue of National Geographic, "Women: A Century of Change," the magazine's first-ever edition written and photographed exclusively by women.

The photos showcase the wide range of goals and ideals for which these women took up arms. Addario's work includes captivating vignettes of a seasoned guerrilla fighter in the jungles of Colombia; a team of Israeli military police patrolling the streets of Jerusalem; and a unit of Kurdish women guarding ISIS refugees in Syria. Some fight to prove themselves, others seek to ignite social change in their home country, and others do it to liberate other women from the grip of ISIS.

Addario visited several active war zones for the piece, but she found herself shaken by something much closer to home: the Marine Corps Recruit Depot at Parris Island, South Carolina.

Addario discussed her visit to boot camp and her other travels in an interview with Task & Purpose, which has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Read More Show Less

My brother earned the Medal of Honor for saving countless lives — but only after he was left for dead

"As I learned while researching a book about John, the SEAL ground commander, Cmdr. Tim Szymanski, had stupidly and with great hubris insisted on insertion being that night."

Opinion

Editor's Note: The following is an op-ed. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.

Air Force Master Sgt. John "Chappy" Chapman is my brother. As one of an elite group, Air Force Combat Control — the deadliest and most badass band of brothers to walk a battlefield — John gave his life on March 4, 2002 for brothers he never knew.

They were the brave men who comprised a Quick Reaction Force (QRF) that had been called in to rescue the SEAL Team 6 team (Mako-30) with whom he had been embedded, which left him behind on Takur Ghar, a desolate mountain in Afghanistan that topped out at over 10,000 feet.

As I learned while researching a book about John, the SEAL ground commander, Cmdr. Tim Szymanski, had stupidly and with great hubris insisted on insertion being that night. After many delays, the mission should and could have been pushed one day, but Szymanski ordered the team to proceed as planned, and Britt "Slab" Slabinski, John's team leader, fell into step after another SEAL team refused the mission.

But the "plan" went even more south when they made the rookie move to insert directly atop the mountain — right into the hands of the bad guys they knew were there.

Read More Show Less
Photo: ABC News/screenshot

Federal court judge Reggie Walton in Washington D.C. has ruled Hoda Muthana, a young woman who left her family in Hoover, Alabama, to join ISIS, is not a U.S. citizen, her attorneys told AL.com Thursday.

The ruling means the government does not recognize her a citizen of the United States, even though she was born in the U.S.

Read More Show Less

Editor's Note: This article by Gina Harkins originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. -- The Marine Corps could train as many as eight co-ed companies at boot camp each year, and the general overseeing the effort is hitting back against those complaining that the move is lowering training standards.

"Get over it," Maj. Gen. William Mullen, the head of Training and Education Command told Military.com on Thursday. "We're still making Marines like we used to. That has not changed."

Mullen, a career infantry officer who has led troops in combat — including in Fallujah, Iraq — said Marines have likely been complaining about falling standards since 1775.

"I'm assuming that the second Marine walking into Tun Tavern was like 'You know ... our standards have gone down. They're just not the same as it they used to be,'" Mullen said, referring to the service's famous birthplace. "That has always been going on in the history of the Marine Corps."

Read More Show Less