Monday, December 20, 2010

U.S. Southern Command Opens New Headquarters

By Arthur McQueen, U.S. Army Garrison Miami

DORAL, Fla. - The U.S. Southern Command opened its new $402 million headquarters here in an event that underscored the United States' ongoing partnership with Latin America and marked a new phase of the command's history in South Florida.

This facility "demonstrates the commitment of the U.S. to our partners in Latin America," Air Force Gen. Douglas M. Fraser, Southcom commander, said at the Dec. 17 event.

That partnership is carried out by what Fraser called "our great people" working for Southcom. "They are who make the difference, and they have not changed," he said.

Navy Adm. James G. Stavridis, commander of U.S. European Command and former Southcom commander, described the event as a partnership representing the commitment to and the potential of the relationship between the United States and the Americas.

"Represented here are one-half billion people to the South," he said, gesturing to the flags of Latin America and the Caribbean. "The U.S. is but one country in those Americas."

The ceremony also marked a new phase in the command's history as a member of the South Florida community. Miami was selected as the home for Southcom from among 100 sites because of the city's links to the 31 countries and 10 territories in the Caribbean, and Central and South America in the command's area of responsibility.

Following the ceremony, guests toured the immense complex, which encompasses more than 39 football fields of office space. The facility is designed to host more than 2,800 people representing all branches of the armed forces, 13 federal agencies and six Western Hemisphere nations.

The complex features state-of-the-art planning and conference facilities. This capability is showcased in the 45,000-square-foot Conference Center of the Americas, which can support meetings of differing classification levels and multiple translations, information sources and video conferencing. This will support engagement and cooperative activities with military and security forces from across the Americas, ranging from multinational humanitarian assistance operations and military exercises to bilateral training and subject-matter-expert exchanges.

The largest building, the new Southcom headquarters, will serve as a hub for U.S. military coordination with other federal agencies that directly and indirectly support U.S. defense, security and partnership-building activities with Latin America and the Caribbean. Its four stories contain numerous offices, 20 conference rooms and eight training rooms.

SOUTHCOM is one of six Defense Department geographic unified commands and is responsible for U.S. military operations, cooperation and partnership-building in a region that includes 31 countries and 10 territories in the Caribbean, Central America and South America.