United States Southern Command

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Headquartered in Miami, Florida, the United States Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM) is the Unified Combatant Command with geographic responsibility for U.S military operations and facilities in Central and South America, the Caribbean (except U.S. commonwealths, territories, and possessions) and Cuba. It is also responsible for ensuring the defense of the Panama Canal and canal area.. Its policy guidance recognizes it as a part of the home environment of the United States: "the Western Hemisphere is our home. By virtue of geography, history, culture, demography, and economics, the United States is linked to our Hemispheric partners in ways unmatched elsewhere in the world."[1] It is commanded by James G. Stavridis, Admiral, United States Navy.

Component Commands

Component Commands are:

  • U.S. Army South (USARSO): at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, it has responsibility for oversight, planning, and logistical support for humanitarian and civic assistance projects throughout the region in support of the USSOUTHCOM Theater Security Cooperation Strategy.
  • Twelfth Air Force (Air Force South or AFSOUTH): Located at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, it serves as the executive agent for the Forward Operating Locations in Ecuador and Netherlands Antilles, provides joint/combined radar surveillance architecture oversight; provides intra-theater airlift; and supports USSOUTHCOM’s Theater Security Cooperation
    • Air and Space Operations Center for command and control of air activity in the USSOUTHCOM area
    • Air Force operations group responsible for Air Force forces in the area.
  • U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command (USNAVSO): Located at Mayport Naval Base, Florida, USNAVSO exercises command and control over all U.S. naval operations in the USSOUTHCOM area including naval exercises, maritime operations, and port visits. USNAVSO is also the executive agent for the operation of the Forward Operating Location at Comalapa, El Salvador
  • U.S. Marine Corps Forces South (USMARFORSOUTH): Located in Miami, Florida, USMARFORSOUTH commands all United States Marine Corps Forces (MARFORs) assigned to USSOUTHCOM
  • U.S. Special Operations Command South (USSOCSOUTH): Located at Homestead Air Reserve Base near Miami, Florida, USSOCSOUTH provides the primary theater contingency response force.

Joint Task Forces

  • Joint Task Force Bravo (JTF-B): Located at Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras, JTF-Bravo operates a all-weather day/night airbase capable of operating C-5 Galaxy transport aircraft, the largest in the United States Air Force. It organizes multilateral exercises and supports, humanitarian and civic assistance, counterdrug, contingency and disaster relief operations in Central America.
  • Joint Task Force Guantanamo (JTF-GTMO): Located at U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, operates the Guantanamo Bay detention camp and was responsible for High Value Detainees there as well as certain intelligence interrogation under the Bush Administration; Barack Obama has announced his intent to close the detention facility.
  • Joint Interagency Task Force-South (JIATF-S): Located in Key West, Florida, manages interagency counter-drug operations and is responsible for the detection and monitoring of suspect air and maritime drug activity in the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, and the eastern Pacific. It collects, processes, and disseminates counter-drug information for interagency operations.

Forward Operating Locations

Three Forward Operating Locations (FOLs), significantly involved in counterdrug activities, are at:

  • Manta, Ecuador
  • Comalapa, El Salvador
  • Aruba/Curacao, Netherlands Antilles


  1. George W. Bush (2004), National Security Presidential Directive/NSPD-32, Western Hemisphere Strategy, White House, p.1