Russia is very present in Central and South America, and is trying to create the narrative that the US is withdrawing from that region, the head of US Southern Command told reporters Thursday at the Pentagon. Russia is “reaching back out to countries that the former Soviet Union had had close working relationships with, it’s developing markets for Russian weapons systems at extremely competitive rates,” and is spreading the false message that the US doesn’t care about that region and is not a reliable partner, Adm. Kurt Tidd said. Russian navy ships have visited the Caribbean and Central American countries and long-range Russian aircraft have flown into the area, in what Tidd called a “competition for influence within the region, and an attempt to displace us” as a partner. To counteract that narrative, Tidd said, he and other senior leaders are continuing direct engagement in the area, bringing the message that “this is our home, … we are very interested in the security environment, and we will continue to be the most reliable partner here.”
Americans’ trust and confidence in the U.S. military has declined precipitously in recent months, according to the results of a survey. Experts lay the blame on increasing political polarization and the fallout from this summer’s turbulent withdrawal from Afghanistan.