General Fraser Paves the Way for New Leadership in U.S. Southern Command

General Fraser Paves the Way for New Leadership in U.S. Southern Command

By Dialogo
November 02, 2012

Just a few weeks prior to the official change in leadership that U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) will undergo on November 19, its current Commander, U.S. Air Force General Douglas Fraser, met with his entire staff for one last time.

It wasn’t a formal ceremony, but rather, a general meeting that the Command holds every few months. There, Gen. Fraser thanked the staff for the enormous job that gets done on a daily basis. “Every award I receive has all of your names on it, because you are the ones that make it possible for us to have the strong relationships we have [in Central and South America and the Caribbean].”

Gen. Fraser expressed that Miami, Florida, is the perfect place to end his 41-year Military career, which took off in 1971, only a few months after he graduated from high school in Bogotá, Colombia’s Colegio Nueva Granada. Coincidentally, the country is an important Partner Nation which he visited in July 2012, for the South American Defense Conference. On that note, he emphasized the strong relationship the United States has forged with Colombia, and other Partner Nations in the Americas. “We are comrades in the pursuit of security and prosperity for the hemisphere,” he said.

The general reflected on the fact that, “we are lucky to live in a hemisphere where peace reigns, but we must remain abreast of changes around us and embrace them and adapt to be prepared for the future.”

Though he recognized that there have been many achievements since SOUTHCOM began to take shape in Panama in the early 1900s, the U.S. Air Force general also reflected on the importance of not remaining idle, but being proactive and ready to always move forward. “Don’t think about how we’ve done things in the past 50 years. Think about how we can do things in the next 50 years,” he said. Gen. Fraser was also firm about the importance of not seeing the current economic realities as a hindrance. “Don’t rest on your laurels on the work done. Move forward and make a difference with what you have.”

Finally, the outgoing general told the SOUTHCOM staff that his successor, U.S. Marine Corps Lieutenant General John F. Kelly, has vast knowledge as a leader, and asked them to support him and his mission the same way they have supported him during his tenure as commander of SOUTHCOM. “General Kelly’s experience will open new doors.”