U.S. General Laura J. Richardson, commander of U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), visited Argentina and Chile, April 25-29, and met with leaders of both nations to discuss security and defense cooperation.
“The U.S. shares enduring defense partnerships with Argentina and Chile,” SOUTHCOM said in a statement. “[Gen.] Richardson’s visit aimed to strengthen both partnerships by understanding each nation’s challenges, considering their ideas, and looking for new opportunities to collaborate in support of shared goals and interests.”
In Buenos Aires, Gen. Richardson met with Argentina’s Vice President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and Defense Minister Jorge Taiana on April 26. The agenda included bilateral cooperation in military training and development, as well as equipment for the Argentine Armed Forces.
“It was a productive bilateral meeting with the commander of U.S. Southern Command, [Gen.] Richardson, to address issues of common interest in relation to defense cooperation,” said Taiana after the meeting.
Lieutenant General Juan Martín Paleo, chief of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the Argentine Armed Forces, led a guard of honor to welcome Gen. Richardson on the steps of the Libertador Building, headquarters of the Defense Ministry in Buenos Aires.
“Minister Taiana outlined the foundations of the National Defense Policy Directive (DPDN) approved by President Alberto Fernández and the scope of the National Defense Fund (FONDEF), which authorizes re-equipping and modernizing the Armed Forces,” the Argentine Ministry of Defense said in a statement.
The leaders also discussed the visit of the frigate ARA Libertad July 8-12 to the Port of Baltimore, during the traditional trip of the Argentine Navy training ship.
On April 27, along with U.S. Ambassador to Argentina Marc Stanley, Gen. Richardson presented the U.S. Department of Defense’s donations to support the White Helmets, an Argentine humanitarian aid agency.
“She thanked the White Helmets for their involvement in international humanitarian assistance operations, especially their recent work in support of Ukraine,” SOUTHCOM said.
Gen. Richardson also participated in a meeting with Argentine military women, where she shared ideas and experiences to promote professional development and the growing role of women in defense and security sectors, SOUTHCOM added.
On April 28, Chile’s Minister of National Defense Maya Fernández welcomed Gen. Richardson. “The meeting addressed gender and diversity issues, as well as possible cooperation initiatives,” Chile’s Ministry of National Defense said in a statement. Gen. Richardson also met with Chilean Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff General Guillermo Paiva to discuss the deepening of the U.S.-Chile partnership, SOUTHCOM said.
The SOUTHCOM commander and her delegation also carried out work meetings on security cooperation with high-ranking officers of the Chilean Armed Forces, which included meetings with General De la Cerda, chief of Staff of the Chilean Army; Admiral Juan Andrés De la Maza, commander of the Chilean Navy; and General Roberto Avendaño, chief of Staff of the Chilean Air Force, U.S. Air Force Colonel Greg Green of the U.S. Embassy in Santiago said.
“This visit by the commander of [U.S.] Southern Command is in response to mutual cooperation interests between the Chilean and the U.S. armed forces,” Gen. Avendaño said, according to defense news site Infodefensa. “This meeting has allowed us to get to know each other and maintain the good relationship that exists between the country’s Armed Forces and the Command.”
On April 29, Gen. Richardson visited Chile’s Joint Peacekeeping Operations Center, where she took part in the last day of SOUTHCOM-organized Women, Peace, and Security Seminar.
The seminar, SOUTHCOM said, included military representatives from Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, and the United States and focused on expanding the role of women in security and defense sectors.
“By gathering today, we’re sending a strong message that Women, Peace, and Security isn’t just a ‘nice to have’ program, or an ‘add on’ to our military business as usual. Women, Peace, and Security is a core principle to make our armed forces more ready, more resilient, and more effective at keeping our citizens safe,” Gen. Richardson said.