- United States Army South
Infobox Military Unit
unit_name= United States Army South
caption=United States Army South shoulder sleeve insignia
country= United States
branch= U.S. Army
command_structure=United States Southern Command
garrison=Fort Sam Houston
Operation Just Cause
current_commander=Major General Keith M. Huber
identification_symbol_label=Distinctive Unit Insignia
United States Army South is the Army's service component command of
United States Southern Command. It is headquartered at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. U.S. Army South is one of five components of U.S. Southern Command, and is in charge of all U.S. Army operations within Central America, South America, and the Caribbean.
The stated mission of U.S. Army South is to conduct Theater Security Cooperation activities, support the Global
War on Terrorism, and support contingency operations in order to promote democratic values and prosperity throughout the region, enhance regional stability, and deter and defeat transnational threats to the United States. [ [https://www.usarso.army.mil/default.aspx USARSO - United States Army South ] ]
The United States has maintained a continuous Army presence in Panama since 1904, when the Army first became involved in the construction and defense of the
Panama Canal. The first U.S. Army troops arrived on October 4, 1911, to be followed by other infantry, cavalry, engineer, signal, and field artillery units that made up what became known as the Mobile force. Initially, these troops operated under the Isthmian Canal commission with the general designation of the Panama Canal Guard.
In the late thirties, events in Europe and technological developments, such as the aircraft carrier and long-range bombers, caused construction of more modern defenses, including a network of roads, and
Albrook Field. By 1939, the military strength in the Canal Zone was about 14,000 and by early 1940, the troop strength rose to almost 28,000. In January 1943, the troop strength peaked at just over 67,000, as the Coastal Defense Network grew to include machine guns, barrage balloons, and smoke machines protected the Canal's locks. Army aircraft patrolled the Caribbean Sea searching for enemy German submarines.
Once the allies prevailed in Europe, the Army command was re-designated the United States Army Caribbean on November 15, 1947, following inactivation of the Caribbean Defense Command and reorganization of the Army, Navy, and Air Force (now an independent service) in the Canal Zone under the newly activated United States Army Caribbean.
In 1951, jungle training was initiated at Fort Sherman after the Army gave the United States Caribbean Command the mission of "keeping jungle warfare alive in the Army." Soldiers were trained in Panama for shipment to the Far East Command following the outbreak of hostilities in Korea
On June 6, 1963, the United States Caribbean Command (the theater command) was re-designated as the United States Southern Command, to reflect primary responsibility in Central and South America, versus the Caribbean. Meanwhile, the United States Army Caribbean was re-designated the United States Army Forces Southern Command.
During the 1970s, the troop strengths averaged between 10,000 and 14,000 soldiers. Implementation of the Panama Canal Treaties of 1977 on October 1, 1979, brought with it the following changes: a new arrangement for the defense of the Panama Canal; the disestablishment of the Canal Zone; a change in designation for the brigade to 193rd Infantry Brigade (Panama), resulting in the beginning of the process of reorganizing from a heavy to a light infantry brigade; and a headquarters move from
Fort Amadorto Fort Clayton.
On December 4, 1986, the United States Army South was activated as a Major Army Command and the Army component of United States Southern Command, with Headquarters at Building 95, Fort Clayton.
Operation Just Cause, the United States military action used to depose Panamanian dictator, General Manuel Antonio Noriega, was officially conducted from December 20, 1989 to January 31, 1990. United States Army South Headquarters became the Headquarters for Joint Task Force-South, the Headquarters designated to execute the operation. During the Panama Invasion the total troop numbers increased to 27,000. Of these, 13,000 were already stationed in Panama and 14,000 were flown in from the United States.
As part of a Unified Command Plan change, United States Southern Command also assumed geographic responsibility for U.S. military forces operating in the Caribbean Basin and the Gulf of Mexico on June 1, 1997. Within this framework, United States Army South's geographical area of responsibility expanded to include the territory of 32 sovereign nations and 11 dependencies throughout all of Latin America and the Caribbean, except Mexico. In 1998, United States Army South units participated in 15 platoon exchanges at the Jungle Operation Training Center with soldiers from Belize, Colombia, Venezuela, El Salvador, Chile, Argentina, and Paraguay.
On August 13, 1999, United States Army South officially moved to
Fort Buchanan, Puerto Rico. The decline in troop numbers continued until the end of 1999 when, in full compliance with the Panama Canal Treaty, all military troops left the Isthmus of Panama for the first time since their arrival at the beginning of the century. On September 16, 2002, the Secretary of the Army signed an execution order that restationed USARSO at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. On September 30, 2003, USARSO officially completed its restationing to Texas, and transitioned from a Major Army Command to a Major Subordinate Command of United States Army Forces Command.
* Mellander, Gustavo A.; Nelly Maldonado Mellander (1999). Charles Edward Magoon: The Panama Years. Río Piedras, Puerto Rico: Editorial Plaza Mayor. ISBN 1563281554. OCLC 42970390.
* Mellander, Gustavo A. (1971). The United States in Panamanian Politics: The Intriguing Formative Years. Danville, Ill.: Interstate Publishers. OCLC 138568.
* [https://www.usarso.army.mil/default.aspx United States Army South official website]
* [http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/agency/army/usarso.htm United States Army South entry at globalsecurity.org]
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