DENVER — The U.S. army’s new Southern Command Gen. Laura Richardson stated Friday she is targeted on strengthening army relationships with South American international locations regardless of fraught politics.
Richardson was in Denver to talk at a commencement ceremony at her alma mater, Metropolitan State College, just a little greater than a month after taking over her position as the very best rating feminine within the U.S. Military.
Whereas the politics between the U.S. and South American nations may not be what “we’d need …. the army relationships are actually sturdy,” Richardson stated in a media roundtable.
Richardson referenced an instance in El Salvador the place U.S. political relationships are souring. In November, Jean Manes, the interim chargé d’affaires in El Salvador introduced she was leaving her publish and stated the federal government of President Nayib Bukele “is exhibiting no curiosity” in enhancing the bilateral relationship.
Manes departure was preceded by the Bukele authorities pulling out of an anti-corruption settlement with the Group of American States and their refusal to extradite members of the MS-13 gang to the U.S. for trial.
Earlier this yr, the U.S. authorities additionally revealed lists of allegedly corrupt officers in Central America which included Bukele’s Chief of Workers Carolina Recinos.
In the meantime, Richardson stated the U.S.-El Salvador safety partnership stays sturdy, including that she not too long ago referred to as the Minister of Nationwide Protection René Francis Merino Monroy to supply condolences for his son who died as a pilot in an plane accident. The U.S. additionally despatched a helicopter unit from Honduras to assist with search and rescue, she stated.
Richardson famous that 23 international locations got here to the Southern Command’s October change of command ceremony the place she was formally given her place as head of the company.
“That was actually great to have that many come and symbolize as a result of they wish to companion with us,” she stated. “They wish to do the workouts. They wish to work with us as a lot as attainable.”
Since assuming the place, Richardson traveled to Colombia and Brazil. She recalled her father in her hometown of Northglenn, Colorado, asking how far she was and what time zone she was in.
“I ponder what number of different individuals are like my father and don’t notice how shut issues are,” she stated. “As a result of these are our neighbors,.”
As the brand new company head, Richardson stated she’s eager about easy methods to keep relationships with nations giant and small “so we by no means go away anyone … untouched or feeling like we’re not partnering with them.”
Richardson stated the work of Southern Command is more and more associated to humanitarian response on account of local weather change disasters like hurricanes or earthquakes. They’re additionally coping with heightened illicit drug trades– noting that metric tons of cocaine intercepted by the U.S. “greater than doubled” between 2019 and 2020.
As a lady who broke by way of quite a few glass ceilings within the army, Richardson stated she strives to symbolize her demographic and make them proud and quipped, “you will get in there and hook and jab with the remainder of them.”