The commander of U.S. Southern Command provided an assessment of Southcom’s concerns and initiatives to lawmakers today during testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee regarding the defense authorization request for fiscal year 2020 and the Future Years Defense Program.
“China has accelerated expansion of its ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ at a pace that may one day overshadow its expansion in Southeast Asia and Africa,” Navy Adm. Craig S. Faller told the committee members. The initiative aims at growing China-centered infrastructure development and investments on a transcontinental scale. “Belt” refers to refers to overland road and rail transportation routes, while “road” refers to sea routes.
Russian activity in the region is also raising concerns — including its support for autocratic regimes in Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua, Faller added. “Russia supports multiple information outlets spreading its false narrative of world events and U.S. intentions,” he said.
And, the admiral noted, “Iran has deepened its anti-U.S. Spanish language media coverage and has exported its state support for terrorism into our hemisphere.”
Partnerships are important to efforts to address these and other concerns in the region, such as criminal organizations, narcotraffickers, illegal immigration and violent extremists, he told lawmakers. “Strengthening…