The Marines have a lengthy and distinguished history of operations in Latin America and the Caribbean in the service of U.S. national policy. U.S. Marines had been active in the area long before establishment of a naval security presence during construction of the internationally strategic and commercially vital Panama Canal.  

The very first amphibious raid conducted by the U.S. Marine Corps took place on 3 March, 1776, when the British garrison at New Providence, Bahamas was surprised by and surrendered to the U.S. Marines.  During this engagement, the Marines captured much needed cannon, shot, and powder which was promptly loaded aboard ship and taken north to aid in the fight for American independence.

Though U.S. Marines Corps Forces, South traces its ground roots to the U.S. Marine Corps Barracks, Panama which was established in 1903 to support the Isthmian Canal Zone, Panama, Marines have contributed to stability and the rule of law for decades throughout the area through garrison duties, nation building, and peacekeeping. 

With the relocation of U.S. Southern Command Headquarters to Miami, as stipulated by the Panama Treaty Implementation Plan of 1977, the Liaison Element followed suit and on October 1, 1999, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, South moved to Miami and grew to be a self-sufficient headquarters charged with coordinating all U.S. Marine Corps activities in Latin America for Commander, U.S. Southern Command. 

In 2004 U.S. Marine Corps Forces South coordinated and directed the 8th Marine Regiment, in cooperation with the French, Canadian, and Chilean militaries to provide the initial peacekeeping forces for the United Nations in Haiti.  U.S. Marine Corps Forces, South was also one of the first responding units to conduct foreign humanitarian assistance/disaster relief, officially known as Operation Unified Response, to the Haitian people following the devastating earthquake in 2010.

Today U.S. Marine Corps Forces, South continues to build on the Marine Corps’ legacy and contributions to the region.  Marines are continuously engaged in planning, coordinating, and executing the involvement of Marine forces in Foreign Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Relief, Counter-Transnational Organized Crime, and other operations and activities in support of U.S. Southern Command theater strategic objectives.    

1903 Panama—Maj. John A. Lejeune lands in newly established country of Panama

1910 Nicaragua—Maj. Smedley Butler stabilizes Managua

1916 Dominican Republic—Col. Pendleton named Minister of Defense, Navy and Police

1933 Nicaragua—Marines leave after seven years

1999 Panama—MARFORSOUTH moves to Miami

2004 Haiti—BGen Coleman leads UN Stabilization Force

2007 Miami—MARFORSOUTH becomes Stand alone HQ

2010 Haiti—MARFORSOUTH participates in Operation Unified Response

2012 Guatemala—Marines deploy in support of Counter-Transnational Organized Crime operations 

Our Focus

MARFORSOUTH's focus is on the Latin American Marines, Naval Infantries, and Maritime Security Forces; anti-terrorism; and peacekeeping, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. We build security forces to detect, deter, and defend critical infrastructure and assets. MARFORSOUTH helps establish SOUTHCOM's maritime domain awareness. As well as build partner nation capabilities for UN peacekeeping missions in Haiti, Congo, and the Middle East.

Our Values

Our values signify the highest attainable degree of mission accomplishment throughout the MARINE FORCES SOUTH region. Carrying out our mission with our values in mind will ensure we progress toward becoming the organization we envision.

These values are:
External: Partner Nations and Marine Units voice a high level of satisfaction in the level of support they receive from the command.

Internal: An organization of Marines, sailors and civilian Marines who value performance and effectiveness above personal interests, who are focused on improving every process by delivering increased levels of support at reduced cost.