SOUTHCOM’s Tidd: ‘Send Me the LCS’
By RICHARD R. BURGESS, Managing Editor
ARLINGTON, Va. — The regional combatant commander responsible for military operations in Central and South America and the Caribbean Sea is looking forward to deploying the Navy’s littoral combat ships (LCSs) in the region to interdict illegal trafficking.
“Send me the LCS,” said Adm. Kurt Tidd, commander, U.S. Southern Command, in remarks Jan. 12 at the Surface Navy Association National Symposium. “It’s the perfect platform [for the mission] … It’s going to give us great capability.”
The U.S. Navy has strained in recent years to provide adequate ships to patrol the Caribbean Sea and the Eastern Pacific given its priorities in the Pacific Ocean, Persian Gulf and Europe. The shortage has been exacerbated with the retirement of the last Perry-class frigates, once the backbone of the Navy’s drug interdiction operations.
“We run out of forces before we run out of missions we’re engaged in,” Tidd said.
He recalled one recent period when there were more Canadian Navy ships involved in the interdiction efforts than U.S. Navy ships.
Tidd praised both the U.S. Coast Guard and the Canadian Navy for their contributions to the interdiction mission, and also the contributions of partners and allies that form a multinational naval force run by Joint Inter-Agency Task Force South, headquartered in Key West, Fla.
Late last year, the Navy homeported two Freedom-class LCSs at Naval Station Mayport, Fla., and those will be joined by others as LCS production increases the number of hulls in the fleet.