SOUTHCOM Celebrates 50th Anniversary

By Dialogo
June 12, 2013

U.S. Southern Command celebrated its 50th Anniversary during a ceremony at the command headquarters on June 4th.

Command’s history goes back to World War II, when the former U.S. Caribbean Defense Command was created to defend the Panama Canal. In the 1950’s the command’s mission evolved to include security cooperation in Central and South America. The command was re-designated U.S. Southern Command on June 11, 1963.

Marine Corps Gen. John F. Kelly, commander of SOUTHCOM, noted that the command grew out of President John F. Kennedy’s vision of a Western Hemisphere that served as a “beacon of freedom, opportunity and equality.” “Fifty years later, President Kennedy’s vision has all but come true,” Kelly said. He noted that SOUTHCOM has come a long way, changing missions, structure and location many times during the past 50 years.

Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter also spoke during the ceremony and underscored the importance of the region. “Your commitment to working with partners, both in the region and throughout the U.S. government … is helping build an integrated network of defense in the Western Hemisphere, based on shared responsibility and shared values,” Carter told the audience. “SOUTHCOM’s engagement and investment in the region has been an important part of that kind of success.”