General Laura Richardson, Commander, U.S. Southern Command

General Laura Richardson

Commander, U.S. Southern Command

Laura Jane Richardson was born in December 1963 in Kansas City, Missouri. She earned a B.S. in psychology from Metropolitan State College in Denver and was commissioned into the United States Army through the Army Reserve Officers’ Training program. She was an All-American swimmer and earned her pilot’s license at the age of 16. She earned an M.S. from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces at Fort McNair. 

She flew Sikorsky UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters and worked her way through the ranks of the Army. She served in South Korea and was also deployed in both the Iraq War and War in Afghanistan. She served as chief of the United States Senate liaison division for the Secretary of the Army. 

In 2017, Richardson became deputy commander of United States Army Forces Command, serving there for two years until her assumption of the command of U.S. Army North. 

In March 2021, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced Richardson’s nomination to be commander of the United States Southern Command. She was confirmed by a unanimous voice vote of the Senate and received her command in October 2021. 

She is married to Lieutenant General James M. Richardson and they have one daughter. 

In the News…

General Laura Richardson, Commander of SOUTHCOM, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the “biggest eye-opener to me” since assuming her position has been the “extent to which China and Russia are aggressively expanding their influence in our neighborhood.” 

She described Russia as “the more immediate threat” in the region but noted that without “modest investment,” China’s influence in Latin America could “soon resemble the self-serving predatory influence it now holds in Africa.” 

“The People’s Republic of China, our long-term strategic competitor, continues its relentless march to expand economic, diplomatic, technological, informational, and military influence in Latin America and the Caribbean and challenges U.S. influence in all these domains,” she said. 

In her written testimony, General Richardson also warned about transnational and criminal organizations which, she said, “operate nearly uncontested, and blaze a trail of corruption and violence that create conditions that allow the PRC and Russia to exploit, threaten citizen security, and undermine the public confidence in government institutions.” 


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