Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras —
SOTO CANO AIR BASE, Honduras — Adm. Craig Faller, commander of U.S. Southern Command, and members of the SOUTHCOM command team spent Sunday and Monday with members of Team Soto Cano to celebrate Thanksgiving and discuss the role of Joint Task Force-Bravo in countering threats and bolstering regional security.
Faller, who was accompanied by Amb. Jean Manes, civilian deputy to the commander, and Sgt. Major Bryan Zickefoose, command senior enlisted leader, noted the value of persistent engagement through JTF-Bravo mission sets that inherently makes the region a safer place by building partner-nation capacity.
“The people supporting Joint Task Force-Bravo – the military and civilian, men and women from the U.S. and Honduras – they’re making a difference every day supporting humanitarian assistance, contingency response readiness, capacity building and information sharing,” Faller said. “They work out of Honduras, but the impact of their mission is regional.”
During the two-day event, the leadership team was able to interact with service members and discuss their role in executing missions critical to furthering SOUTHCOM’s lines of effort. Among the discussions were Airmen from the 612th Air Base Squadron who operate the largest Department of Defense fuel depot in the command’s area of operations, as well as members of the 1-228th Aviation Regiment, whose rotary-lift capability enables Soto Cano Air Base to be a strategic power-projection platform. Faller also discussed medical readiness training events that JTF-Bravo performs regularly in austere locations, benefiting both service members’ readiness and locals’ health.
While reviewing the assembly location of palletized equipment for SOUTHCOM’s Situational Assessment Team – a deployable combatant command asset made up of members of JTF-Bravo that rapidly moves out to provide an on-the-ground site picture in the event of a contingency situation – Lt. Col. Laura Miller, S-SAT director, discussed upcoming opportunities to showcase the functionality of the unit. She also highlighted the strategic role of the team in supporting SOUTHCOM.
“Joint Task Force Bravo has committed a lot of hard work and resources to the S-SAT in order to be ready to provide the capability to project a small, diverse team quickly to any place in the SOUTHCOM area of responsibility, if necessary,” Miller said. “Our charge is to provide the combatant commander and his leadership team with real-time, on-the-ground information to help inform decisions.”
Before leaving, the leadership team engaged with service members from across Team Soto Cano to tell them directly why what they do is important and why teamwork is essential to achieving effects.
“What you do here does matter,” Faller said. “You come together and make things happen in a positive way – that’s how we win … as a team.”
Zickefoose echoed this sentiment.
“We’re here to do great things, and every service member here counts – every civilian here counts,” he said. “When the commander and I walk in, we see a team, and we know what a good team looks like.”
Among those who had the chance to engage with the commander, Tech. Sgt. Matthew O’Neill, NCO in charge of weather operations, believes hearing strategic intent from senior leaders is invaluable to mission execution.
“Senior leadership has the ability to change the dynamic and the culture of climate through direct contact – it is a great way to reinvigorate esprit de corps in the total force,” O’Neill said. “It is valuable to have their perspective because often times we get stuck in the grindstone of everyday operations. Having their vision and perspective helps us learn why we do things and gives us a better scope on how we impact the world on an everyday basis.”
Faller also took a moment to thank service members and their families for all they do and to wish them a happy Thanksgiving. He noted that their sacrifice is important because of the value of the work the JTF-Bravo team does day-to-day.
“We’re here to make a difference in the security of this hemisphere—for our friends, our neighbors, and of course for the future of our families.”