Gen. John F. Kelly
[SCVEDC] – In advance of the Reagan National Defense Forum, General John Kelly will speak in the Santa Clarita Valley on Nov. 6. Kelly is the current commander of the United States Southern Command.
The Reagan National Defense Forum is an annual event that brings together leaders and key stakeholders in the defense community to address the health of our national defense and stimulate discussions that promote policies to strengthen the US military. The event is held at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley.
Due to the strength of the Aerospace & Defense industry in the Santa Clarita Valley, and the leadership of former Congressman Buck McKeon in the Reagan National Defense Forum, Kelly will speak to business leaders and residents of the Santa Clarita Valley the night before the Forum.
Retired U.S. Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon will also be launching the endowment of the McKeon Scholars Award, as well as announcing the establishement of the McKeon Archive at College of the Canyons.
Registration is open to the public.
McKeon Leadership Forum
College of the Canyons Performing Arts Center
26455 Rockwell Canyon Road
6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
An invitation-only VIP reception will be held prior to the event.
Outgoing Southcom Commander Outlines Mission
By Lisa Ferdinando | DoD News, Defense Media Activity
WASHINGTON, January 8, 2016 — The role of U.S. Southern Command is unique among the combatant commands, Southcom’s outgoing commander said at a Pentagon news conference today.
Marine Corps Gen. John F. Kelly, who is retiring after more than four decades of service, shared his thoughts on Southcom’s mission.
Southcom is responsible for all Defense Department security cooperation in the 45 nations and territories of Central and South America and the Caribbean Sea, an area of 16 million square miles.
“It’s all about broadening and deepening partnerships down there, to say the least,” Kelly said. “I will tell you that the partners we have in Latin America and the Caribbean like the United States and want to be associated with the United States.”
Kelly added there are few countries that “didn’t get the memo” about democracy and human rights, but added that “some of that is even turning around.”
Southcom works with allies in the region to deliver advice, education and assistance, Kelly said. Other priorities are countering transnational organized crime, counterterrorism, drug interdiction, building partner capacity response, and detainee operations.
Drug Interdiction Important Mission
“We’ve had a tremendous year of interdiction of cocaine,” the general said. “The way we’ve partnered with various nations has allowed us to interdict …191 metric tons of cocaine, and that’s after it left Latin America.”
The No. 1 partner in fighting drug trafficking is Colombia, Kelly told reporters. He said Colombia interdicted hundreds of metric tons of cocaine before the drugs left the country, and eradicated tens of thousands of coca plantation bushes and hundreds of cocaine labs.
The United States needs to stay involved in the process of helping Colombia, he said.
“Let’s not throw away a success story,” he added. “We have to stand and continue Plan Colombia, in my opinion, for another 10 years.”
Proud of Service Members Serving at Guantanamo
Kelly also outlined detainee operations at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, another Southcom mission.
“My mandate from the president, through the secretary of defense, is to make sure that we’re in accordance with all laws and regulations that the detainees as long as they are down there are treated well, treated humanely, and well taken care of medically and otherwise,” he said.
“We do that superbly. I’m very, very, very proud of my soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines that are at Guantanamo that execute this mission as well as they do,” he said.
Gold Star Father
The sacrifices of his own service are not the only ones Kelly has endured. His son, Marine Corps 1st Lt. Robert Kelly, was killed in action in 2010 in Afghanistan.
“It doesn’t matter how they die,” he said. “To lose a child, … I can’t imagine anything worse than that. When you lose one in combat, in my opinion, there’s a pride that goes with it. … He didn’t have to be there doing what he was doing. He wanted to be there. He volunteered.”
When Gold Star families ask him if it was worth it, the general said, he tells them that what is important is that the person who died thought it was worth it. “That’s the only opinion that counts,” he said.
Those who choose to serve, whether in the military or as police or federal agents, are “special people” who are doing what they wanted to do, and are with the people they wanted to be with when they lost their lives, Kelly said.
“Gold Star families are special, to say the least,” he said.
The one thing the families would ask, he said, is that “the cause for which their son or daughter fell be carried through to a successful end.”
Navy Vice Adm. Kurt W. Tidd, assistant to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of staff, will receive his fourth star and succeed Kelly as Southcom commander Jan. 14.
MIAMI, January 14, 2016 — Navy Adm. Kurt W. Tidd took command of U.S. Southern Command during a ceremony at Southcom’s headquarters here today, succeeding Marine Corps Gen. John F. Kelly, who is retiring after four decades of service.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, presided over the ceremony.
“We count on you to be there when it matters most,” Carter said, noting that Southcom’s priorities include responding to natural disasters, detainee operations at Guantanamo, preparing for contingencies, confronting criminal networks and disrupting human and drug trafficking.
Southcom, which is responsible for U.S. military operations in Central and South America and the Caribbean, has an area of responsibility of more than 16 million square miles.
“You work with partner nations to promote the rule of law and democratic principles, and help to strengthen professional, accountable militaries that respect human rights,” Carter said of the command.
The military and civilian personnel at Southcom, the defense secretary said, continue to provide the people of the United States and its regional partners a “chance to live in peace, to dream their dreams, to live full lives.”
The constant theme of Southcom is partnership, Dunford said.
The command’s personnel make an extraordinary difference in developing the deep partnerships and relationships in the region that truly make a difference, he said.
“Pound for pound, I can’t think of another organization that is more effective,” Dunford said. “For the last three years, that performance is a reflection of Gen. John Kelly’s leadership.”
Carter and Dunford each praised Kelly’s decades of service and welcomed Tidd in his new role, noting that both men are exceptional military leaders who have made extraordinary contributions to the nation.
Tidd: ‘Distinct Privilege’ to Serve at Southcom
Tidd said he looks forward to working with the personnel at the command, the command’s interagency partners and regional allies.
“It’s a distinct privilege and a pleasure to be able to lead this wonderful organization,” Tidd told reporters after the ceremony, explaining that Southcom has been safeguarding the interests of the nation for more than five decades.
“I look forward to the opportunity to work very closely with the many close partners with whom we share interests throughout this hemisphere,” he said. “It’s a wonderful partnership. We have close friends. We have shared national security interests.”
At the ceremony, Tidd said the work for the command includes “building innovative solutions to complex transregional challenges” and beginning the next chapter in Southcom’s annual multinational exercise, Partnership for the Americas.
Tidd previously served as the assistant to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and commanded U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and U.S. 4th Fleet.
Afloat, he commanded Carrier Strike Group 8 aboard USS Dwight D. Eisenhower during a combat deployment in support of coalition forces in Operation Enduring Freedom.
He said he is honored to succeed Kelly, whose career also includes commanding Marine Forces Reserve and Marine Forces North in Iraq from October 2009 to March 2011.
“There is no officer in uniform today who is steadier under fire, more capable in the heat of battle than John Kelly,” Tidd said. “He is the gold standard of integrity, humility and heart — one of the finest officers I know.”
Tidd added, “It’s an honor and it’s a privilege to be able to follow in his wake.”
Kelly’s Farewell to Southcom
Kelly, who became Southcom’s commander in November 2012, said it was a great honor to serve with a command that has such a wide and deep mission.
He lauded the dedication and hard work of the civilians and military personnel who build those important relationships and partnerships in the region, working as diplomats, social developers, human rights advocates, and economic developers.
“They have made a difference, not only for our country, but for our partner nations,” Kelly said.
The general praised regional allies as well, noting, “I cannot tell you the honor it’s been to make friends throughout Latin America — equal friends, equal partners.”