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Adm. Tidd Assumes Command of SOUTHCOM at Celebration of Gen. Kelly, Accomplishments and Partnerships

Adm. Tidd Assumes Command of SOUTHCOM at Celebration of Gen. Kelly, Accomplishments and Partnerships

By Geraldine Cook
January 15, 2016

Although it was an uncharacteristic gloomy day in Miami, a new dawn for U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) was brought forth on January 14th, as U.S. Navy Admiral Kurt W. Tidd assumed command over the organization from U.S. Marine Corps General John F. Kelly.

Although it was an uncharacteristic gloomy day in Miami, a new dawn for U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) was brought forth on January 14th, as U.S. Navy Admiral Kurt W. Tidd assumed command over the organization from U.S. Marine Corps General John F. Kelly.

In a formal ceremony attended by local leaders, the Command’s personnel, and the Military leaders of partner nations including Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Honduras, and Peru among others, SOUTHCOM dressed up in its best to bid farewell to Gen. Kelly and welcome Adm. Tidd aboard the mission of continuing the “Partnership for the Americas” and working together toward maintaining a safe, secure, and unified hemisphere.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton B. Carter presided over the ceremony alongside U.S. Marine Corps General Joseph F. Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and both praised the work that SOUTHCOM undertakes on a daily basis, as well as the legacy Gen. Kelly leaves behind.

Continue to build strong partnersips

“The men and women of SOUTHCOM work with partner nations to promote the rule of law, democratic principles, and help to strengthen professional, accountable militaries that respect human rights. [They] perform with excellence and continue to provide the people of the United States and our neighbors a chance to live in peace, to live their dreams, to live full lives,” said Secretary of Defense Carter. “Their accomplishments have come under the exceptional leadership of my friend, Gen. John Kelly over the last three years,” he added before highlighting Gen. Kelly’s distinguished 45-year career of “dedicated, principled, honored, and skilled service as a U.S. Marine.”

However, more than signifying a change, “Changes of Command are actually more about continuity of Command than about change,” stated Gen. Dunford. “Tomorrow morning, just like this morning, Southern Command is going to wake up with a commitment to the mission and trust in their leadership.”

Marking the Change of Command at SOUTHCOM between two distinguished officers, between two proven statesmen, two coalition builders, is also a celebration of a remarkable continuity, said the Secretary of Defense. “Both Gen. Kelly and Adm. Tidd are a perfect fit for SOUTHCOM, a Command where our partners matter so much and our partnerships run so deep,” continued Secretary Carter.

A man of
integrity, humility, and heart

To introduce Adm. Tidd, Secretary Carter highlighted his career accomplishments. “[He] may have one of the most distinguished pedigrees of the U.S. Navy [ alluding to his father and brother, retired Vice Admiral Emmet H. Tidd and Rear Admiral Mark L. Tidd, respectively
], but I have seen first-hand that he is never afraid to roll up his sleeves and get grease under his nails. From his earlier service in the Gulf to his leadership in Naval combat operations, [Adm. Tidd] also understands the language of coalition operations and clearly appreciates the conversation between countries, cultures, and peoples that SOUTHCOM has cultivated for much of the last century. These insights will remain vital as we work with Latin American and Caribbean partners in this critical juncture in our hemisphere’s history, a moment filled with opportunity.”

For his part, Adm. Tidd was thankful to his family, and the different authorities and partner nation representatives present. “Your presence is testament to the importance of our partners across Central America, South America, and the Caribbean, and of the pivotal role played by U.S. Southern Command enabling these critical partnerships,” he said. But he specifically applauded the “magnificent work Gen. Kelly and Mrs. Kelly accomplished at SOUTHCOM over the past three years and for his beloved Corps and country over the past four decades.”

“He is the gold standard of integrity, humility, and heart—one of the finest officers I know. It’s an honor, and a privilege to follow in his wake,” he hailed. “And, while he leaves enormous shoes to fill, who wouldn’t be excited by the opportunities afforded by his infectious enthusiasm and determined leadership? Thank you, General Kelly, for all you have done for our nation, and for this vitally important region.”

Exporting security

In addition to thanking Gen. Kelly and welcoming Adm. Tidd, Secretary Carter was not shy in recognizing the importance of the partnerships SOUTHCOM builds toward peace and security on a daily basis. “Today, the area of SOUTHCOM’s area of responsibility is a zone of peace and rising prosperity,” he highlighted. “Nations from Colombia, to Chile, to Brazil are global exporters of security.”

Likewise, he emphasized the efforts of Colombia and highlighted the importance of the successful special relationship between the U.S. and Colombia in building joint bridges of peace. “Colombia, in particular, holds special promise thanks to the sacrifices of the Colombian people. [The country] now stands on the brink of an historic peace,” he said. “And as they did during their most difficult times, the people of SOUTHCOM will continue to stand with our Colombian friends as they reach for days of even greater prosperity.”

The Secretary of Defense, additionally, was clear in defining the focus of these partnerships and the role SOUTHCOM has ahead. “Even as we remain focused on what further progress requires, we simply cannot tolerate the activities of criminal organizations that poison so many communities across the Americas, whether they traffic in narcotics, human lives, or extremist ideologies, these criminal networks are threats to us all,” he stated.

“As Gen. Kelly’s determined efforts with our partners made clear, these groups should find no shelter in this hemisphere. I know Adm. Tidd shares this steadfast commitment. He will carry it forward with characteristic excellence and resolve.”

Career friends

Before introducing his friend Gen. Kelly, Gen. Dunford also dedicated a part of his speech to recognizing the work SOUTHCOM carries out in the Americas, specifically mentioning the staff, the component commands, the different multi-national exercises, and the partners. “The constant theme in all that the Southern Command does is partnership – it’s SOUTHCOM’s engagement throughout humanitarian and civil assistance programs, defense institution building, and human rights initiatives that help partner nations strengthen governance and development, professionalize their Military and security forces, and increase their current ability to respond to crises.”

As the last to address the crowd, Gen. Kelly joked that this was truly his last goodbye, as his retirement date and Adm. Tidd’s confirmation had been moved a number of times since late 2015. More so, however, he was deeply thankful for the support from his family; the “amazing set of talents” from the civilian, Military, and contractor personnel at the Command, its components, country teams, interagency partners; and the friends he made in his time as the 22nd head of the U.S. Southern Command, which include the partner nation counterparts he is now proud to call “equal friends and equal partners in the region.”

“Thank God there is no war and thank God there’s very little possibility of war between states in this region,” he said.

Successful Joint Task Forces

Finally, Gen. Kelly was particularly proud to mention the achievements of SOUTHCOM’s regional Joint Task Forces, including the Joint Interagency Task Force South, in Key West, Florida; Joint Task Force-Bravo, in Honduras; and Joint Task Force Guantanamo, in Cuba, which should make “Americans proud,” he said.

The departing Commander highlighted specific successes nations such as Colombia, Peru, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Honduras, and all of Central America are making toward cementing security in the region and countering the threat of transnational organized crime, terrorism, and drugs.

“My time here is over. I can’t tell you what a privilege it has been to have commanded this organization, the honor it is to have commanded the civilian and Military personnel here at the base, the honor it’s been to make friends in the region. Thank so very much.”
Extremely important training between the U.S.A. and countries from the Southern cone due to their being a strategic area with regard to security in controlling trafficking and acts of international terrorism. God bless America!!! Very good!! In particular, I did not know that we had this military agreement.
I feel more secure with regard to the stability of democracy in South America, something which causes me great worry given what has been happening with the presence of antidemocratic forces in the last few years. And the U.S., yet again, frees the peoples of all the Americas. May God bless everyone!!! Thank you very much. Another good lesson about patriotism, discipline, and relevance for the Armed Force, after having read something about that comment somewhere…Assistant Official in the Brazilian Navy reserves, Maritime and Banking retired. Marine (Commander of the First Naval District – M.B.). CPRJ I am a military fireman from Rio de Janeiro. I gave honorable service to this corporation for 32 years, having retired 19 years ago. I am also a military parachutist from 1964. I don’t consider myself to be “one for the coup.” I do not accept being talked to like that! I want to congratulate you for the beautiful work you have done so that our National Pavilion will always be yellow, green, blue, and white – never red with the blood of our “precious little Brazilians.” May God bless and keep you and your commanders! Amen!! Without words…! This post said everything I would like to know, and hearing that there are still people out there who are human beings, humans who are concerned about the planet and other human beings, who fight bravely for a world of peace. Congratulations, Military! Welcome! May God bless them… It’s so great that the U.S. exists, ensuring peace and the survival of the west, acting in favor of freedom for the peoples of the Americas, and against the culture of slavery found in socialism and communism. Very good article, but wouldn’t it be better to translate Marines’ ranks as they are called in the U.S.A. (generals instead of admirals)? Welcome Admiral Tidd. I wish you much success in your position, Admiral. I wish many blessings for you and your family with great affection from Venezuela Hector Perez and may God Bless the U.S. Congratulations, Admiral. ….I applaud these changes in military posts by this great military power, the U.S…in our continent.. Moreover, from this great member of the military, Admiral Kurt Tidd, descendant of an honorable military dynasty in his native country….Congratulations. Special congratulations to Admiral Kurt Tidd, New Commander of the Southern Command of the U.S. in the Americas. Fraternal regards! I foresee many triumphs for you in this part of the American Continent. Jorge Argüello, Licentiate in Industrial Relations. MUCH SUCCESS ADMIRAL KURT TIDD, GOD BLESS THE UNITED STATES, Nicaragua should be included in events as important as these.