[OPE] The Return of the Fourth Fleet

From: glevy@pratt.edu
Date: Tue May 13 2008 - 07:57:54 EDT

The Return of the Fourth Fleet 
May 10th 2008, by BBC 

After 58 years, the United States Navy will reactivate the Fourth Fleet,
which will be in charge of patrolling Latin American waters. 

The fleet had been deactivated following the end of the Second World
War, but starting July 1st of this year, U.S. naval forces will have a
high level command specifically dedicated to supervising the projects of
its units in Latin America and the Caribbean. 

A U.S. military
spokesperson pointed out to the BBC that this does not imply in itself an
increase in U.S. military presence in the region. 

this, analysts assure that the measure has a symbolic significance that
seeks to respond to the appearance of anti-U.S. regimes in the region. 

>From Florida 

The fleet will be based in the city of
Mayport, in the state of Florida, and will be under the command of the
United States Southern Command, which is located in the city of Miami and
directs all the country's military forces in Latin America. 

Some see in this decision a response to the election of several
governments in the region which have expressed policies contrary to those
of the government in Washington. 

Sánchez, an analyst with the Council on Hemispheric Affairs,
a U.S. investigative organism, interprets the reactivation of the Fourth
Fleet as a political decision, more than a military one. 

"For the last few years, the United States was concentrated on Iraq
and Afghanistan. Recently now it is trying to return to Latin
America," he told the BBC. 

With regard to the supposed
U.S. military challenges in the region, Sánchez added:
"Let's be honest. Even if Venezuela acquires a Russian submarine, or
Brazil wants to develop a nuclear submarine, neither of these countries
can present a military threat to the United States." 

>From the analyst's perspective, the U.S. navy's recent decisions
demonstrate, among other things, that €œno matter which
Latin American country is in an arms race, they cannot compare to U.S.
military power.€ 

€œThis Does
Not Increase Military Presence€ 

The official in
charge of external relations for Southern Command Naval Forces is
Lieutenant Myers Vásquez. 

The BBC asked him why
the Fourth Fleet was re-deployed in this moment. 

reality, the U.S. naval forces of the Southern Command have been acting as
a fleet, so from the operational point of view in the region, nothing has
changed. Basically this is about changing the name of reality,"
assured the official. 

He added that the measure is meant to
better align the units with the maritime strategy of the United States.

"We will have a base working in conjunction with other
components of the Southern Command," the military spokesperson

He denied that this necessarily increases the
United States military presence in the region and presented the
reactivation of the Fourth Fleet as an administrative type measure. 

"We will continue the operations that we have been carrying
out in the last two years, principally in the struggle against drug
trafficking and in theatre of war security cooperation missions," he

He stressed that the re-establishment of the Fourth
Fleet also indicates the importance of Latin America and the Caribbean to
the United States. 

According to Vásquez, at this
moment in Latin America 4 U.S. warships are committed to anti-drug
trafficking missions, the George Washington aircraft carrier operates in
the region, and the U.S.S. Boxer is currently involved in a humanitarian
mission in Guatemala, which amount to a total of eight or nine ships. 

Friendly Bases? 

Analysts point out that one of the
operational challenges confronting the U.S. military forces in the region
is the difficulty of obtaining permission to operate bases in Latin

Sánchez recounts that the U.S. Air
Force has been using the Ecuadorian Manta Base, but it is expected that
after 2009, the Ecuadorian government will not renew Washington`s permit
to operate there. 

However, according to official information
from the U.S. military, in the coming months several humanitarian missions
and military exercises that involve U.S. naval units will be carried out.

For example, the Southern Command has organized a six-month
operation called Partnership of the Americas. 

"The ships
will participate in a series of Security Cooperation Missions in
operational theaters in such a manner as to circumnavigate South America,
including military to military cooperation, humanitarian assistance,
disaster relief, joint training, exercises, and security operations, and
maritime security," a Southern Command report states. 

Special Operations 

The Fourth Fleet will be united with
other U.S. Navy divisions that are also assigned to specific geographic

For example, the Seventh Fleet patrols East Asian
waters, while the Sixth Fleet is located in the Mediterranean. 

Until this year, the Second Fleet had been responsible for Latin

In command of the Fourth Fleet will be Rear Admiral
Joseph Kernan, who until now had been the Navy's Chief of Special

Translated by James Suggett 

Source URL: http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/ 
Printed: May 13th 2008 

ope mailing list

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Sat May 31 2008 - 00:00:04 EDT