SOUTHCOM Commander Visits Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica and Haiti
By Dialogo February 11, 2013
Marine Gen. John F. Kelly, the commander of U.S. Southern Command, concluded on February 7 a three-day trip to the Caribbean, after meeting with leaders from three nations.
Kelly visited Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica and Haiti to address continued military cooperation and common security issues. The general’s discussions with each nations’ leaders focused on cooperation in combating transnational threats like organized crime and drug trafficking, support responses to natural disasters, and training engagements.
This was Kelly’s first visit to the Caribbean as commander of SOUTHCOM since assuming command in November.
In Trinidad and Tobago, Kelly met with Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, Minister of National Security Jack Warner, Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Dookeran and members of the Trinidad and Tobago Defense Force led by Chief of Defense Staff, Maj. Gen. Kenrick Maharaj.
“Our discussions on various topics, chief among them regional security challenges, shared goals, and the important partnership between our countries were very good,” said Kelly in a statement. “Security challenges have also changed and today we need to confront or counter threats ranging from stateless actors engaged in illicit trafficking of drugs, arms, money and people, to natural disasters.”
During his visit to Jamaica, Kelly met with senior Jamaican defense and government leaders to discuss military cooperation and regional security. The general also met with U.S. embassy officials in Kingston, including U.S. Ambassador Pamela Bridgewater, to discuss U.S. military support to the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative and U.S.-Jamaica bilateral relations.
Kelly’s final stop in Haiti included meetings with Haitian, U.S. and international senior leaders to learn about the U.S. partnership with Haiti and its collaboration with other international, nongovernmental and public-private partners working to assist the Caribbean nation.
The general met with U.S. Ambassador Pamela White to discuss support to U.S. government assistance efforts in Haiti and security cooperation focus areas with MINUSTAH and the Haitian National Police. MINUSTAH Force Commander, Maj. Gen. Fernando Rodrigues Goulart, hosted Kelly at the UN mission’s camp, where they discussed the UN force’s mission and assistance to the Haitian National Police.
At Haitian National Police headquarters, the U.S. military commander spoke with Director General Godson Orelus to hear the Haitian leader’s perspectives on the country’s security, vision for the Haitian National Police and thoughts on security cooperation with the United States.
Kelly also met with the new Minister of the Interior Honorable David Bazile and shared lunch with members of the military serving in Haiti and the Marine Security Detachment, Port au Prince.