Despite being in the United States’ “neighborhood,” Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) has typically not been a priority region for U.S. national security objectives, and in recent decades threats emanating from the region have largely been perceived to be tied to narcotics and other illicit trafficking. This posture may need to be reassessed, especially in light of the increased activities and investments made in the region by adversaries in the context of great-power competition.
In this report, the authors assess the sufficiency of resources available to pursue U.S. national security objectives in LAC, drawing on strategic guidance documents issued at the national and departmental levels, as well as by U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM), U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs at the U.S. State Department, and the Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The authors also provide an in-depth review of the goals and objectives of China, Russia, and Iran in the region and the ways in which each adversary is pursuing them.
This research was sponsored by the Office of the Secretary of Defense–Western Hemisphere Affairs (OSD-WHA) and conducted within the International Security and Defense Policy Center of the RAND National Security Research Division (NSRD).
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