Continuing U.S. Military Presence at Soto Cano Base Is Not Critical Gao ID: NSIAD-95-39 February 8, 1995

Since 1983, the United States has maintained a semipermanent military presence at Honduras' Soto Cano Air Force Base. The U.S. presence was established to support U.S. military and political interests in Central America, which were threatened by Communist expansion in the region. The cost to maintain the U.S. presence there is projected to be about $38 million in fiscal year 1994. With the end of the Cold War and political changes in the region, GAO examined the need for a continuing U.S. military presence in Honduras. This report assesses whether the U.S. military presence is critical to U.S. activities and objectives.

GAO found that: (1) the U.S. military presence at Soto Cano provides useful but minimal support to some U.S. government activities in the region, but there is not sufficient justification for maintaining the presence; (2) U.S. forces are to support military training exercises, humanitarian and civic assistance exercises, and U.S. counterdrug activities in Honduras; (3) the Army acknowledges that training can be conducted in the region without a semipermanent logistics support base; (4) federal agency officials believe that they can continue their regional operations without support from the U.S. military at Soto Cano; (5) Soto Cano provides minimal support to U.S. counterdrug activities; (6) Soto Cano's potential as a support facility for military operations in Latin America is limited by the lack of a base rights agreement with Honduras, its limited capacity, and political issues; and (7) eliminating the U.S. military presence at Soto Cano would have a minimal impact on current U.S. missions and would potentially result in budgetary savings.


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