The dynamic of international relations changed with the egregious events of September 11, 2001. The United States must take steps to ensure that such atrocities never happen on our soil again. The men and women of our military and intelligence communities have been working tirelessly to keep our country safe in locations across the world, securing a democratic transition in Iraq and finding and killing Osama Bin-Laden.
Despite these successes, the United States is faced with continued threats of terror, as demonstrated in the attempted Christmas-day and the Times Square attacks. We must take steps to secure our country and the world from terror networks, and we must work to prevent acts of terrorism in their early stages and eradicate the conditions that make such attacks possible.
My district is home to crucial Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard facilities. Naval Air Station Key West is the U.S. Navy's premier training facility for tactical aviation squadrons, allowing pilots of all stripes to train for air-to-air combat missions. Homestead Joint Air Reserve Base (HARB) hosts the 482 Fighter Wing (482 FW) and its operational component, the 93rd Fighter Squadron. It is a fully combat-ready unit capable of providing F-16C multi-purpose fighter aircraft with pilots and support personnel for quick worldwide deployment. The wing has more than 1,500 members, including approximately 1,200 reservists, of which 250 are full-time reservists, in addition to 300 full-time civilian. The 125th Fighter Wing Detachment 1 is also located at HARB. As a part of the Florida Air National Guard, the 125th is able to provide rapid response to any invasion of US airspace.
In addition to these military establishments is the United States Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), one of ten Combatant Commands (COCOMs) in the Department of Defense. It is responsible for contingency planning, operations, and security-related cooperation in Central and South America, the Caribbean, Cuba, and the Panama Canal and its surrounding area. SOUTHCOM includes more than 1,200 military and civilian personnel from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and other federal agencies.
In South Florida, drug and human trafficking are one of the most pervasive security threats. My constituency contains over 265 miles of pristine Florida coastline, a border that must be defended from narco-trafficking. The United States Coast Guard (USCG) is dedicated to patrolling this coastline. Florida's 18th district is home to the Coast Guard Sectors of Miami and Key West, which collectively border not just the Florida coast, but the territorial seas of Cuba and the Bahamas as well. I have been a strong supporter of modernizing the Coast Guard fleet to ensure that our brave Coast Guard men and women have the tools they need to effectively patrol our coasts.
Threats to our country could potentially manifest in our various ports of entry. Miami is home to the Miami International Airport (MIA) and the Port of Miami. MIA is one of the largest international passenger and freight airports in the world. It is the main gateway to Latin America and the Caribbean from the United States. The Port of Miami is recognized as both the "Cruise Capital of the World" and "Cargo Gateway of the Americas." Over four million cruise passengers and 7.4 million tons of cargo pass through the port. Both the port and the airport contribute jobs and revenue to South Florida's economy, but must be closely guarded to protect our residents and visitors.