Top US Commander Warns ‘Front Line’ With China Now South of Border

Just as top U.S. defense and diplomatic officials are meeting with allies in Asia to find ways to counter the threat from a rising, more aggressive China, a key military commander is warning the front line in the competition for global dominance between Washington and Beijing is much closer to home. The commander of U.S. forces in Central and South America, Southern Command’s Admiral Craig Faller, told lawmakers Tuesday that China has become the leading threat in the region, taking advantage of the coronavirus pandemic and increased lawlessness to impose its will on a growing number of countries.  FILE – U.S. Navy Adm. Craig Faller listens during a briefing at U.S. Southern Command, in Doral, Fla., July 10, 2020.”I look at this hemisphere as the front line of competition,” Faller told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, further describing Beijing’s efforts as a “full-court press.” “I feel a sense of urgency,” he added. “Our influence is eroding.”  Region “is sinking in the violence & it is sinking in FILE – U.S. Air Force Gen. Glen VanHerck speaks during a news conference on the campus of California State University of Los Angeles in Los Angeles, Feb. 16, 2021.”They are absolutely in the NOTHCOM AOR [area of responsibility] attempting to influence in the Bahamas, working through 5G for example,” VanHerck said. “The same thing in Mexico.” U.S. military officials likewise expressed concern about the growing relationship between Chinese operations in Central and South America and transnational crime, described by SOUTHCOM’s Faller as the second biggest threat to the U.S. in the Americas. “They market in drugs, and people and guns and illegal mining,” Faller said of the various crime organizations that have secured a foothold across the region. “And one of the prime sources that underwrites their efforts is Chinese money laundering.” To counter China, Faller urged lawmakers to help ensure a continued U.S. presence and partnership. “It’s important that we remain engaged in this hemisphere,” he said. “It’s our neighborhood, That proximity matters.” “What I hear from my partners is … ‘We want to partner with you, but when you’re drowning, you need a life ring — you’re going to take the life ring from whoever throws it,” Faller said. 

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