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Mattis introduces new Southcom commander, praises unity in Western Hemisphere

U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis, left, passes the U.S. Southern Command guidon to Adm. Craig S. Faller, USN, incoming commander of SOUTHCOM, during the change of command ceremony held at SOUTHCOM's headquarters in Miami, Fla. Monday, November 26, 2018. (Raymond Sarracino/U.S. Southern Command)
November 29, 2018

Adm. Craig Faller was named the new commander of the Miami-based U.S. Southern Command on Monday.

U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis, who named Faller to the post, said the agency responsible for naval and ground operations in Latin America and the Caribbean will continue to collaborate with neighboring countries to “protect our people” from the effects of mother nature’s storms, drug trafficking and terrorism.

“There is more in this hemisphere that binds us together than drives us apart,” Mattis told civil and military leaders, foreign ministers and others at a ceremony inside the gym on the campus of Southcom in Doral. He said the United States prides itself on mutual respect and stable military ties with many of its neighbors, but not those “suffering under the unfortunate leadership in Cuba and Venezuela.”

Faller assumes the new role from Adm. Kurt Tidd, who has been leading the agency for almost three years. Both have extensive experience in the Navy.

Faller’s service has taken him to the Middle East and Indo-Pacific region. He most recently served as senior military assistant to Mattis.

“As I see it, the Western Hemisphere is our neighborhood,” Faller said. “Where I grew up, good neighbors respect each other.”

Faller, who is from Fryburg, Pa., said he is proud of his Brazilian family and heritage. His father-in-law, who just turned 90, arrived in the U.S. from Brazil in the late 1940s and has been a citizen for almost 50 years.

Faller went up to the microphone before Tidd spoke, even though he was scheduled to speak after his predecessor. Tidd joked in his remarks, “You can see why Craig Faller is my very best friend in the whole world. You cannot ask more than a guy who wants to take the reins and run right away.” Faller later said he was reminded of the value of rehearsals and paying attention during them.

Faller thanked his family, colleagues and friends and spoke about fostering collaboration in the region.

“Our bonds are permanent. I will work tirelessly to build that trust,” Faller said.

Tidd said that during his tenure, Southcom removed barriers to sharing information with neighbors and worked closely with regional partners to address drug trafficking and other threats in the region. It also responded to hurricanes Matthew, Irma and Maria in Haiti and the eastern Caribbean.

Tidd said one of Southcom’s most important and heartbreaking rapid-response efforts was when it worked alongside its Argentine partners to find a sunken submarine with 44 crew members on board. The submarine was found about a year after it went missing.

Tidd said the Western Hemisphere has more countries with the highest murder rates than any other part of the world, noting that gang violence is rampant and growing across Central America. “It’s our neighborhood. What affects one affects all,” he said.

He, too, spoke of the power of collaboration.

No nation is so big that it does not need help, and no nation is so small that it cannot contribute something of value, Tidd said.


© 2018 Miami Herald

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