The Commander of US Southcom, General John Kelly concluded a two day visit to Belize today. Since taking over Southcom in November of last year, it is his first visit to Belize, but during that period the US military has been cooperating in multiple training activities in Belize. Kelly told the media today he wants to extend that. Here’s the story from his press conference:…

Jules Vasquez reporting
In what might be the definition of making a grand entrance, four Star US Marine General John F. Kelly and his contingent arrived in Belmopan at 1:00 this afternoon in three Blackhawk helicopters - which were brought in from Honduras to move him and his 16 officers around Belize for their 36 hour visit.


General John F. Kelly (Marines) - Commander, US Southcom
"I just arrived yesterday, the last two days have been an education for me about this country. Most of the day yesterday we spent on the water and I received an appreciation of how much of the maritime domain that your Coast Guard and government is responsible for. It is considerable because of the distance between the islands off the coast - it's very considerable and abnormally large."

While the Blackhawks settled on the green in Belmopan,

General Kelly met CEO in the Ministry of National Security George Lovell, who escorted him to a press conference at the Police Training Academy. Kelly’s message was simple: he says he is here to help:

General John F. Kelly (Marines)
"I'm here as a partner, I'm not here as a senior partner, I'm here as a partner. The United States extends the hands of partnership all over this part of the world. What do we plan to do here in Belize in the future and the scope of operation? First of all whatever Belize wants."

But that benign may belie a serious agenda the US has to combat security concerns in Belize and the region. As the commander of Southcom, Generla Kelly is responsible for all US Military operations below Mexico to the southern tip of South America :

Hon John Saldivar - Minister of National Security
"General, I would like to point out that Belize is, geographically speaking, the first nation south of Mexico and I would like to think that we're also the first in line for assistance and joint initiatives under your command."

Jules Vasquez
"How does Southcom view Belize, strategically?"

General John F. Kelly (Marines)
"There is no country that I know of on Earth that supports things like Human Trafficking, trafficking in young women for sex purposes, drugs - no country I know of supports that. So any country, regardless of what their political system is - that wants to work with the United States against these terrible cancers then they're partners of ours. If this country (example) becomes difficult to move product through - it will go around this country so the best thing, my suggestion would be for the security forces here, for the government is to continue this great track record of decreasing crime."

Jules Vasquez
"The US Southcom provided air support for the Belize securit forces to go on a three day Marijuana search and destroy mission."

General John F. Kelly (Marines)
"It wasn't the US that they found the marijuana fields, it was the US that assisted - you all have superb security forces in eradicating the marijuana. It was the security forces that found the marijuana and we just provided the assistance for your forces to go and erdaicate the marijuana. As I understand it, if I'm not mistaken - there was 12 million dollars in profit that was ceased in plants."

Jules Vasquez
"Will this be duplicated and secondly - our Prime Minster has said that, is the United States sending a mixed message because medicinal marijuana has been legalized in a number of states and there is a lobby to increase that. How do you square those two things?"

General John F. Kelly (Marines)
"The first one I can answer but the second is a minefield Jules but I'll try there too. That is a discussion in my country that I am watching myself, as a father, as someone that has experienced the negative parts of what drugs does to a human being - watching with great interest but as we say in the United States - 'the United States Military doesn't make policy, we just execute it.' "

Southcom has a surprising number of projects currently ongoing in Belize:

Hon John Saldivar
"Quite recently we saw the construction of a forward operating base for the Belize Coast Guard at Calabash Caye and construction is on the way for a similar forward operating base in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye and one in Hunting Caye. Plans are in place for the construction of yet another forward operating base in the Big Creek area. Other Coast Guard programs that are ongoing include the US Navy Seals selection course, US Marine Force, South Riverine Training Team is presently conducting training with the BDF in Punta Gorda and is expected to be up there until the 14th of this month. Elements of that same unit are also conducting intelligence training for members of our various security forces. Plans are in place for exercised fused response, which is an excercise with US Special Operations Command South to take place in Belize in 2014."

Those were just some of the ongoing operations that Saldivar listed.

We are told that the US plans to assist Belize with helicopters for marijuana destruction again at some point in the future.

General Kelly left Belize this evening.

Channel 7