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SOUTHCOM CO Tidd: Not Enough Ships, Aircraft Available to Fight Drug War

USS Lassen (DDG-82) operating in U.S. Southern Command in February 2016 on its way to Mayport, Fla. US Navy Photo

USS Lassen (DDG-82) operating in U.S. Southern Command in February 2016 on its way to Mayport, Fla. US Navy Photo

The head of Southern Command told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday that he does not have the ships or aircraft to fully carry out the interdiction mission to stop the flow of drugs and migrants from Central America into the United States.

Adm. Kurt Tidd said, as the hearing was ending, that he has five or six surface ships on the interdiction mission each day, primarily drawn from the Coast Guard, but the requirement was to have 21 surface vessels on the mission to stop 40 percent of the illegal drug traffic. “It’s a question of resources” that he said he understood. The command was “still suffering from the hangover” of sequestration, he added.

In answer to a question Tidd said, “I would never turn down additional ships.”

He said that half of the at-sea interdictions were made “with our partners,” and “we need to stand fast” with them in the drug fight and helping them stop the movement of migrants to the United States.

Tidd described stopping the narcotics flow north was “like squeezing a balloon” where large- and small-scale smugglers adjust where they will land the drugs for trans-shipment. “They will adapt”—now using Panama rather than Guatemala. Southern Command’s area of responsibility to the north ends at the Mexican border.

Adm. William Gortney, chief of Northern Command, said he believes Mexico is “in a 30-year fight” against corruption to halt the movement of narcotics from Central America to cartels inside its borders. He added most often the drugs are “coming through the traditional legal border crossings” into the United States carried “in very small quantities” by individuals or in vehicles.

“We need to expect more from the Mexican government and the agencies of the Mexican government.”

Tidd noted increases in coca production in Colombia, which has largely been a success story in countering narcotics and a long-running insurgency, that will likely lead to more cocaine coming into the country. Likewise, Gortney cited increased poppy production that will likely lead to more heroin exports. He added that illegal methamphetamines were traced to China.

“We need to work on . . . the root cause”—the demand for narcotics in the United States—and to commit to a years-long effort to improve living conditions throughout Central America, Gortney said.

He told the panel that border security with Mexico was “not nearly as effective as we would like it to be.”

“A wall will not solve the problem,” indicating that improved sensors and other technologies that take into account terrain would be helpful. He also said the United States was working with the Israelis on how to better identify and eliminate tunnels used by smugglers.

As he said several times, the long-term solution to the narcotics problem and also a migration crisis brought on by people fleeing the violence in their communities was reducing the demand inside the United States.

Tidd said he visited Guantanamo Bay twice in his short time as commander and called the security force there, largely made up of National Guardsmen, “exceptionally well qualified” for the mission of guarding the detainees.

To illustrate the pressure the security force was under, he said there have been 100 assaults on guards—”splashing, scratching, pushing, shoving” and threats of more serious harm if the detainee had a weapon—in the past month.

Even if the last detainee left Guantanamo Bay, the facilities there would be of use during a migrant crisis in the Caribbean (most likely from Haiti) and should not be returned to the Cubans, he said. The United Nations has maintained a peacekeeping force in Haiti, primarily from Brazil, since 2004.

  • FedUpWithWelfareStates

    The U.S. Military battle cry, “Give us more, more, more…”

    Sure, lets throw even more billions of $$$ each year at a “War on Drugs” we have lost just like the failed “War on Terrorism” that we are definitely losing.

    These military buffoons need to fall directly under a Civilian Minder giving them daily guidance as to what they can & cannot say outside of the office.

    “A Wall will NOT work?” Then why is it that walls are suddenly going up in Saudi, around Europe, etc?

    Idiot!

    What will NOT work any longer is funneling billions of $$$ to the corrupt Congressional, Military, Industrial Complex & expecting a different outcome, as in WINNING!

    I do believe that is called INSANITY…

    • Don Bacon

      Admiral Gortney commands NORTHCOM.
      U.S. Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) was established Oct. 1, 2002 to provide command and control of Department of Defense (DOD) homeland defense efforts and to coordinate defense support of civil authorities. USNORTHCOM defends America’s homeland — protecting our people, national power, and freedom of action.

      Gortney on drugs coming into the U.S.: ““A wall will not solve the problem. We need to work on . . . the root cause”—the demand for narcotics in the United States—and to commit to a years-long effort to improve living conditions throughout Central America, Gortney said.

      The defense of the country is in this guy’s hands? The answer is to commit to a years-long effort to improve living conditions throughout Central America? …..Get the hook.

      • RSW

        Gortney is an idiot. He has not idea about solving the drug problems in America. This country has a drug epidemic and FEW see it or understand it. They also do not have an answer for it. I’ve recently watched TV programs about the epidemic with Heroin they are having in New England. Heroin is the drug of choice there because it is plentiful and cheap. Once you’re hooked on Heroin, your chances of come off it are not good. Facilities that treat drug and alcohol patients are not providing the results for the money they charge. This drug epidemic is killing our citizens, young and old. This is as big a problem as the crisis’ we have all over the world but this crisis is killing our citizens and we are losing the battle. If you haven’t experienced it personally, you have no idea what it is like to lose a loved one to the drugs. Look up Acetylfentanyl. That’s what is also out on the streets. It’s not meant for human consumption, is 5-15 times more powerful than Heroin, 80 more powerful than Morphine and cheap. You probably will not find Acetylfentanyl specifically but you will find Fentanyl and when mixed with Heroin is deadly. America better wake up. Judges are giving dealers light sentences, especially in Maryland. Dealers are back out on the streets continuing to peddle their death sentences to our people. WE NEED A WAR ON DRUG DEALERS!!!!!

    • RSW

      THERE IS NO ACCOUNTABILITY FOR MONIES SPENT!!!!!!!! YOU NEED REQUIREMENTS TO OBTAIN MONEY BUT PROGRAMS ARE FIELDED EVEN WHEN THEY ARE FAILURES — (F-35). GET THE DRUG DEALERS OFF THE STREETS!!!!!!!!!!

      • old guy

        Want a BIG saving? No $$$ appropriated UNLESS competition is OVER. Cut out end-of-year squandering to use up budget. This could save 20% each year. Anyone here that has been in that position knows it’s true!

        • Curtis Conway

          AMEN!

  • B.J. Blazkowicz

    Maybe we should stop funding the Drug War in the first place. Wouldn’t have people moving north if we didn’t fund Colombian and Honduran death squads.

    • RSW

      OolonColluphid, the funding on the Drug War is only a part of the overall problem. The war we should be funding is the war on drug dealers. Facilities that take patients have become big business. They charge outrageous prices, guarantee ZERO success results and are a revolving door for your personally money or the money from your insurance. The facilities are losing the war on addicts who are being fed by drug dealers. WE NEED TO GET DRUG DEALERS OFF THE STREETS! WE NEED TO FLUSH LIBERAL JUDGES WHO HAND OUT LIGHT SENTENCES ON DRUG DEALERS. WE HAVE AN EPIDEMIC IN OUR COUNTRY AND DRUG DEALERS ARE REAPING THE BENEFITS OF LIBERAL JUDGES, UNSUCCESSFUL TREATMENT FACILITIES WHICH ARE VERY EXPENSIVE AND ADDICTS THAT FIGHT AND SUFFER FROM THE PROBLEM DAILY.

      • B.J. Blazkowicz

        Whining about liberal judges makes you’re statement suspect. It’s not liberals keeping drug dealers on the street. The meth coming into cities are imported from rural small towns.
        Legalization will kill most of their income. Only the anti tax retards would have a problem with that.

  • omegatalon

    Why fight it.. just let the dope heads over-dose on the super-cheap pricing of Cocaine and/or Heroine; it won’t last forever.

    • chris9465

      can you go back to your room and let the adults talk thanks…

    • RSW

      Hey omegatalon, IF YOU DON’T KNOW HOW TO SPELL HEROIN, LOOK IT UP!!!!!!!! IT’S KILLING OUR CITIZENS AND THE DEALERS ARE GETTING LIGHT SENTENCES!!!!!!! GET THE DRUG DEALERS OFF THE STREETS!!!!!!!!!!!!! HAVE OPEN SEASON ON THEM!!!!!!!

  • chris9465

    thats it lets spend more & more money this is the conservatives liberal equivalent of the war on poverty if we just had more money more people we could win this war!

    • RSW

      DON’T BLAME THIS JUST ON CONSERVATIVES!!!!!!!!!! THIS IS THE WHOLE OF THE LEADERSHIP – REGARDLESS OF PARTY AFFILIATION!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! GET THE DRUG DEALERS OFF THE STREETS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • old guy

      Just remember, the war on poverty, JOHNSON’s great society, no matter how well-intentioned it was, DESTROYED the BLACK community in this country, by promising VALHALLA on Earth, if they just sat back and voted DEMOCRAT.
      Also, the collapse of the economy traces DIRECTLY back to Clinton’s SUB PRIME MORTGAGES, ((helped mightily by the Republi-scums). in Congress.
      BE REAL, NOT BLINDLY PARTISAN.

  • old guy

    IF YOU CAN’T BE SMART ENOUGH TO DO YOUR JOB, WITH THE WORLD’S BIGGEST NAVY….QUIT.

    • sferrin

      Talk is cheap. I could put the smartest person in the world at your disposal, doesn’t mean you’ll start producing time machines next week. Job X requires resources Y. Don’t provide enough resources to do the job saying, “do it anyway” isn’t going to work. You sound like one of those useless management types who think that yelling louder makes the impossible possible.

      • old guy

        BUT, useless stuff, like HUNK-A-JUNK and DD1000 are very expensive,

        • sferrin

          “HUNK-A-JUNK”? Could you be a little more informative and less emotional? And the DDG1000 is expensive for several very logical (albeit completely predictable) reasons. And going forward they’re going to be very valuable.

          • old guy

            You haven’t been following all the comments. But here is a short summary:
            1. HUNK-A-JUNK is the no mission, no capability LITERALLY CRUMMY SHIP (LCS)
            2. DD1000 was designed with a tumblehome hull that caused the model to capsize in the DTNSRDC turning basin.Look else ware in this blog for the EXACT technical reasons.
            3. I am a VERY cool former Chief NAVY R&D ship designer who gets VERY emotional when idiots in charge screw up our NAVY for personal gain.
            4. The Shipyard Welfare Incentive Program Entity (SWIPE) is a good example of the Navy’s descent from reason.

  • Sam Culper III

    The US military will NEVER turn down more resources and money or say they have enough. How many Billions were wasted by the same military leaders in Iraq and Afghanistan? What about the F-35 and LCS which cost taxpayers Billions more than expected, still do not work, while are years late? We spend more on defense than the next seven nations combined. We need to fix the corruption by the military defense industry and in Congress buying things that don’t work just to satisfy their contributors, and how we choose to buy our equipment. If the military spent our money wisely and not on foolish gold plated jack of all trades gear, they would have plenty of money left over.

  • RSW

    And yes, I realize I am YELLING!!!!!!! IT IS MY INTENT!!!!!!! GET THE DRUG DEALERS OFF THE STREETS!!!!!!!!!!!! REMOVE LIBERAL JUDGES WHO HAND OUT LIGHT SENTENCES!!!!!!!! GET THE DRUG DEALERS OFF THE STREETS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • old guy

      Declare a REAL war on drugs. Kill the plants, raid the labs, any where in the world. Send all major dealers to SHEMYA with 1 year supply of food, then let them raise their own. Send all the convicted 1st degree murderers there to help them. Set a stationary satellite above to locate any ship trying to land. Get couple of hunk-a-junks (Hooray, a mission), to knock them off. Put all addicts into voluntary or compulsory rehab, sit back and watch us grow.

  • sferrin

    This should be the Coast Guard’s job not the USN’s.

  • sferrin

    Damn this section is just chock full of retards. Buh bye.

  • Secundius

    Other than 1946, when the US. Navy number 71,009-Ships!. When ELSE in The Historical Timeline, DID WE (the USA) Have Enough Plane’s and Ship’s to Combat a Drug War…

    • old guy

      In 1975 the PHMs.and SES200 on loan to the CG STOPPED smuggling by boat. The Kaimalino was proposed as a HELO intercept carrier. They All were shut down. Boogie, Boogie, Boogie.

      • Secundius

        As I recall, ONLY 6 Pegasus PHM’s were Built. Because they were Mechanically Unreliable…

        • old guy

          We NEVER had a single failure with a PHM.
          The only trouble was with the MYOPIC CNO, who followed Zumwalt. He was a BIG ship, 28 KT Admiral, who quickly killed every advanced concept program Z started. A quote, “We don’t need ships for brown water (old name for littoral) work. The Coast Guard and our allies can handle that.” He set the Navy back 50 years. The DD 1000 should have been named after him.

          • Secundius

            Not sure with less than 50% Certainty, but Someone Associated with Paul Conrad. Paul Conrad, was Tight with Robert McNamara who HATED Zumwalt with a Burning Passion. Probably Admiral Jeremy M. Boorda, he CUT all Projects that Admiral William “Bill” Owens supported Conrad was a Mentor of Boorda

            You Remember “Roy G. Biv”, Littoral is is Roy G. (down to 490-meters in depth or “RED” Spectrum).

            Question, You know someone named “Mandy”?

        • old guy

          Read Conway’s and my comments above. Killing the Foils was STRICTLY stupid politics. The Boeing commercial version “Jetfoil” ran for 30 years.

          • Secundius

            Hull Draft for the Pegasus, was 6-Feet, 2-Inches, 10.16mm @ 12-kts. “AND”!/?

      • Curtis Conway

        The Pegasus class ships were very capable. Performed PASEXs with them numerous times. They were maintenance intensive. It was the first time we built that class of vessel and did not go through an extensive upgrade series with them. If we built them again they would cost a fraction of the LCS platform, have more combat power, still possess a shallow draft, and be faster to boot. No flight deck though. Need a mother ship when away from home port anyway.

        • old guy

          You hit the nail on the head. on all counts The “problems” were really just working out the new technology and correct maintenance procedures and schedules. We had a raised platform designed that could handle helos. I think we tested it but I am not sure. We did handle helos on the SWATH Kaimalino and the SES iooB.By the time CPT Frank Horn became Commodore of the foil squadron, things ran pretty smooth. Incidentally, Frank is still alive and kicking. He just ran the International Hydrofoil Society booth at the ASNE Annual meeting.

  • Michael Nunez

    With Anti-Humans Consuming 50 Tons of Drugs here in the U.S. Daily . Smugglers need to be Executed/Hung that have even the Smallest Hand in Bring Drugs into America . This Huge Appetite for Drugs here in the U.S. is Tearing Neighboring Countries Apart , and has to Fought with Everything We Have ….. !

  • Byron G.

    The anti-narco strategy of the U.S. has seemingly shifted from border integrity and interdiction at sea, to, working with Sinaloa~ ?