DENVER — The U.S. army’s new Southern Command Gen. Laura Richardson mentioned Friday she is concentrated on strengthening army relationships with South American nations regardless of fraught politics.
Richardson was in Denver to talk at a commencement ceremony at her alma mater, Metropolitan State College, a bit of greater than a month after taking up her position as the 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 mentioned 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 submit and mentioned the federal government of President Nayib Bukele “is displaying 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 mentioned the U.S.-El Salvador safety partnership stays sturdy, including that she lately 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 help with search and rescue, she mentioned.
Richardson famous that 23 nations 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 super to have that many come and characterize as a result of they wish to companion with us,” she mentioned. “They wish to do the workout routines. They wish to work with us as a lot as doable.”
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 understand how shut issues are,” she mentioned. “As a result of these are our neighbors,.”
As the brand new company head, Richardson mentioned she’s interested by the way to preserve 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 mentioned the work of Southern Command is more and more associated to humanitarian response as a consequence 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 girl who broke via quite a few glass ceilings within the army, Richardson mentioned she strives to characterize her demographic and make them proud and quipped, “you may get in there and hook and jab with the remainder of them.”