US military stands ready to protect diplomats in Venezuela, SOUTHCOM chief says

news
People attend a protest against Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro's government at Plaza Bolivar in Lima, Peru February 2, 2019. (Reuters/Guadalupe Pardo)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. military is prepared to protect U.S. personnel and diplomatic facilities in Venezuela if needed, the U.S. admiral in charge of American forces in South America said on Thursday.


"We are prepared to protect U.S. personnel and diplomatic facilities if necessary," Navy Admiral Craig Faller, the head of U.S. Southern Command, said during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.

He did not provide any details on how the U.S. military might respond.

Venezuela's collapse under President Nicolas Maduro, with the country plunged into poverty and driving some 3 million people to flee abroad, has forced nations worldwide to take a stance, particularly after opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself president last month.

Major European Union nations have joined the United States, Canada and a group of Latin American countries in recognizing Guaido as the rightful interim ruler of the South American nation.

Faller said Venezuela had about 2,000 generals and the majority of them were loyal to Maduro because of the wealth they have amassed from drug trafficking, petroleum revenue and business revenue.

Still, he said, rank-and-file soldiers were starving "just like the population" of Venezuela.

"The legitimate government of President Guaido has offered amnesty, and a place for the military forces, most of which we think would be loyal to the Constitution, not to a dictator, a place to go," Faller said.

He added that the Venezuelan military was degraded.

SEE ALSO: What The Hell Is Going On In Venezuela? An Explanation

T-38 Talon training aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Two airmen from Vance Air Force Base, Oklahoma, were killed on Thursday when two T-38 Talon training aircraft crashed during training mission, according to a message posted on the base's Facebook age.

The two airmen's names are being withheld pending next of kin notification.

A total of four airmen were onboard the aircraft at the time of the incident, base officials had previously announced.

The medical conditions for the other two people involved in the crash was not immediately known.

An investigation will be launched to determine the cause of the crash.

Emergency responders from Vance Air Force Base are at the crash scene to treat casualties and help with recovery efforts.

Read the entire message below:

VANCE AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. – Two Vance Air Force Base Airmen were killed in an aircraft mishap at approximately 9:10 a.m. today.

At the time of the accident, the aircraft were performing a training mission.

Vance emergency response personnel are on scene to treat casualties and assist in recovery efforts.

Names of the deceased will be withheld pending next of kin notification.

A safety investigation team will investigate the incident.

Additional details will be provided as information becomes available. #VanceUpdates.

This is a breaking news story. It will be updated as more information is released.

The commander of the Marine Corps' Wounded Warrior Regiment has been relieved over a loss of "trust and confidence in his ability to lead" amid an investigation into his conduct, a Corps official told Task & Purpose on Thursday.

Col. Lawrence F. Miller was removed from his post on Thursday morning and replaced with his executive officer, Lt. Col. Larry Coleman, who will serve as interim commander of the Quantico, Virginia based unit.

Read More Show Less

President Donald Trump has nixed any effort by the Navy to excommunicate Eddie Gallagher from the SEAL community.

"The Navy will NOT be taking away Warfighter and Navy Seal Eddie Gallagher's Trident Pin," the president tweeted on Thursday. "This case was handled very badly from the beginning. Get back to business!"

Read More Show Less
Thanksgiving lunch is served at Fort McCoy on Nov. 15, 2017. (U.S. Army/ Staff Sgt. Jae Jung)

In an ideal world, Thanksgiving is spent at the dining room table, surrounded by beloved family, close friends, and good food. For U.S. service members, it's occasionally spent in the shit.

Read More Show Less
Photos: 1st Cavalry Division

The Army has identified the two soldiers killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan on Wednesday as 33-year-old Chief Warrant Officer 2 David C. Knadle, and 25-year-old Chief Warrant Officer 2 Kirk T. Fuchigami Jr.

Read More Show Less