US Marine Corps Forces, South (MARFORSOUTH)
US Marine Corps Forces, South (MARFORSOUTH) is the US Marine Corps Service Component Command for United States Southern Command (SOUTHCOM). MARFORSOUTH commands all Marine forces assigned to Commander, SOUTHCOM; advises the Commander, SOUTHCOM on the proper employment and support of Marine forces; conducts deployment/redeployment planning and execution of assigned/attached Marine forces; and accomplishes other operational missions as assigned.
MARFORSOUTH's focus is on the Latin American Marines, Naval Infantries, and Maritime Security Forces; anti-terrorism; and peacekeeping, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. MARFORSOUTH looks to build security forces to detect, deter, and defend critical infrastructure and assets. MARFORSOUTH helps establish SOUTHCOM's maritime domain awareness, as well as build partner nation capabilities for UN peacekeeping missions in Haiti, Congo, and the Middle East.
MARFORSOUTH, headquartered in Miami, Florida, is the US Marine Corps component of the US Southern Command. Forces are provided by II Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. The Lieutenant General who serves as Commander, United States Marine Corps Forces, South, had additional duties as the Deputy Chief of Staff for Plans, Policies, and Operations, Headquarters, US Marine Corps, Washington, District of Columbia. USSOUTHCOM's Marine component is represented in Miami, Florida by a small planning and liaison element. In addition, these Marines provide an immediate reaction riverine capable forces ready to conduct training for allied forces; and support to other Marine forces in USSOUTHCOM's area of operational responsibility.
US Marine Corps Forces, South (MARFORSOUTH) traces its roots to the US Marine Corps Barracks, Panama which was established in 1903 to support the Isthmian Canal Zone, Panama. Of course, the US Marines had been active in the area long before establishment of a naval security presence during construction of the internationally strategic and commercially vital Panama Canal. For example, the very first amphibious raid conducted by the US Marine Corps took place on 3 March 1776, when the British garrison at New Providence, Bahamas was surprised by the US Marines and surrendered. The US Marines captured much needed cannon, shot and powder, which was promptly loaded aboard ship and taken north to aid in the fight for American independence. The Marines continued to have a lengthy and distinguished history of operations in Latin America and the Caribbean in the service of US national policy. Marines have since contributed to stability and the rule of law for decades throughout the area through garrison duties, nation building and peacekeeping.
In 1995, the US Marine Barracks, Panama stood down in a reflection of changing missions and the US Marine Forces, South Liaison Element, was established at Rodman Naval Station, Panama. Its mission was to act as a Liaison Element on behalf of Commander, MARFORSOUTH, headquartered in Norfolk, Virginia.
With the relocation of US Southern Command Headquarters to Miami, Florida as stipulated by the Panama Treaty Implementation Plan of 1977, the US Marine Forces, South Liaison Element followed suit and on 1 October 1999, MARFORSOUTH moved to Miami and grew to be a self sufficient headquarters charged with coordinating all US Marine Corps activities in Latin America for Commander, US Southern Command. The command had previously been colocated with US Marine Forces, Atlantic (MARFORLANT), with which it was affiliated. It remained affiliated with MARFORLANT after its move south.
In 2004, 8th Marine Regiment, along with allies from France, Canada and Chile provided the initial peacekeeping forces for the United Nations in Haiti.
In 2007, US Marine Forces, South (MARFORSOUTH), previously affiliated with MARFORLANT and subsequently MARFORSCOM, became a stand alone headquarters.
In August 2012, the US Marine Corps deployed Detachment Martillo, assigned to Marine Corps Forces, South and made up of about 200 Marines from II Marine Expeditionary Force, to Guatemala to support Operation Martillo. Included in the force were 4 UH-1N helicopters from Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 467 (HMLA-467), based at 'Base Aérea del Sur' (Air Base South) in Santa Elena, Petén, Guatemala. The Marines were providing communications support, Marine Corps aircraft assets, and other vital assets which increase JIATF South's detection and monitoring capabilities and assist the government of Guatemala. The decision to deploy a Marine task force was made after consultations between the US and Guatemalan governments, and had the full support of President Perez Molina and the Guatemalan Ministry of Defense.
On 14 October 2012, Detachment Martillo, Marine Corps Forces South, departed Guatemala, having flown over 250 detection and monitoring missions in support of Guatemalan law enforcement agencies and naval forces during the roughly 2-month deployment. Flying every mission with the Marines was a bilingual Guatemalan liaison officer who relayed information to the Guatemalan authorities responsible for conducting any interdictions and apprehensions on suspicious vessels.
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