KEY WEST, Fla. (Feb. 11, 2015) -- Secretary of the Army John M. McHugh visited Service members at Joint Interagency Task Force-South, or JIATF-South, Feb. 10, as part of a trip that included a stop at the U.S. detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
McHugh spoke with JIATF-South Soldiers about their role in current and planned interagency collaborative efforts and operations in the JIATF-South/Southern Command area of operations.
He emphasized the importance of the JIATF-South mission and the Soldiers and Army civilians who help conduct and support them.
"You all are the proverbial tip of the spear for this region," said McHugh, expressing appreciation for their "unrelenting labors in the detection, monitoring and dismantling of illicit traffic in the area of operations."
He underscored the importance of JITAF-South's overall mission and its continued endeavors with international partners.
"The presence of bad actors appears to be growing in complexity, and I want to thank you for your continued efforts," McHugh said.
During his visit, McHugh toured the Joint Operating Center and was briefed on the tactics and planning systems, the Joint Interagency Intelligence Operating Center and the Key West Advanced Visualization Environment.
U.S. Coast Guard Rear Adm. Steve Mehling, JIATF-South commander, joined him during the visit.
After enjoying an informal luncheon with JITAF-South Soldiers, McHugh toured a static display of a self-propelled submersible nicknamed, "Bigfoot," which was seized carrying 9.2 metric tons of illicit cargo by the U.S Coast Guard Cutter Steadfast (WMEC-623) in November 2006, off the coast of Costa Rica.
The semi-submersible received the nickname, "Bigfoot," because it was the first of these types of vessels, heretofore unheard of, to be captured, proving that semi-submersibles exist.
JIATF-South conducts interagency and international detection and monitoring operations, and facilitates the interdiction of illicit trafficking and other narco-terrorist threats in support of national and partner nation security.