A top United States general in charge of protecting the southern border says he’s been unable to combat the steady flow of illegal drugs, weapons and people from Central America, and is looking to Congress for urgent help.
Marine Corps Gen. John Kelly, commander of U.S. Southern Command, has asked Congress this year for more money, drones and ships for his mission – a request unlikely to be met. Since October, an influx of nearly 100,000 migrants has made the dangerous journey north from Latin America to the United States border. Most are children, and three-quarters of the unaccompanied minors have traveled thousands of miles from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.
“In comparison to other global threats, the near collapse of societies in the hemisphere with the associated drug and [undocumented immigrant] flow are frequently viewed to be of low importance,” Kelly told Defense One. “Many argue these threats are not existential and do not challenge our national security. I disagree.”
In spring hearings before the Senate and House Armed Services Committees, Kelly said that budgets cuts are “severely degrading” the military’s ability to defend southern approaches to the U.S border.