16 October 2004 — The New Dark Age
The Commander in Chief of SOUTHCOM is responsible for all U.S. military activities in Central and South America, the Caribbean, and waters south of Mexico. North to south the distance is 7,000 miles, and from east to west more than 3,000 miles. Brazil is larger than the continental United States; Peru is three times the size of California. There are 32 sovereign nations in this theatre or Area of responsibility (AOR). SOUTHCOM had clearly derived advantages from a forward presence in Latin America over the years with U.S. military facilities in Panama and in Honduras. Until recently, these U.S. bases in Panama funnelled critical support to regional counter drug efforts (Drugs headed for the U.S. from South America pass through a 6 million square mile transit zone, roughly the size of the continental U.S), humanitarian operations, military-to-military contacts, and defence of the Panama Canal.