SOTO CANO AIR BASE, Honduras –
Joint Task Force-Bravo, the Honduran military and the Comisión Permanente de Contingencias (the Honduran equivalent of Federal Emergency Management Agency) trained together here Feb. 2 through 10.
The goal of the training was to demonstrate the utility and initial integration of Prepositioned Exercise Assistance Kits, equipment designed to assist in providing aid following disasters.
"What we're doing here is allowing different agencies to train on how these PEAKs work," said Phil Stockdale, PEAK project technical manager. "After their training, we exercise three scenarios where they'll work together to ensure they would be able to use the PEAKs to provide emergency aid should a disaster hit."
"The idea is, when we can predict things like Hurricanes, we can get out ahead of the storm and drop these kits off and the personnel on the ground will be able to use its contents to provide aid," said Dr. Russel Horn, PEAK project operations manager. "When there's an unpredictable event, the kit can be delivered within hours by air from locations like Soto Cano AB."
Each kit contains four main components; hybrid power, a water desalination machine, a communications kit, and a geographic information system.
To produce hybrid power, the kit contains solar panels.
"The solar energy here produces quite a bit of power, close to two kilowatt-hours," Dr. Horn said. "The filtration system uses slightly less than one kwh so that leaves excess to run the GIS."
The kit's filtration system is a water desalination machine which turns undrinkable water into drinkable water.
"We ran the filtration from murky pond water with good results," Dr. Horn said. "We are filtering out 100 gallons of safe drinking water per hour."
According to Stockdale, the PEAK's communications kit is a portable cell phone network including two cell phone towers, each with a one-mile radius, placed about a mile apart resulting in two-mile range capability.
The geographic information system within the kit contains a laptop, 20 smart phones and 50 additional Subscriber Identity Module cards. The cell phones are preprogrammed to communicate with the laptop allowing members to travel within the 2-mile coverage range and take photos which transmit to the laptop and internet for immediate evaluation with Global Positioning System identification.
This particular exercise tested the prototype for this kit, and the team plans to take the feedback they gather to improve the kit and return in August to test the final product.
"Not all the feedback is good but it's all constructive," Dr. Horn said. "Through the exercise, we found out that the kit itself is too tall so we'll have to redesign it to be more compact and air transportable either within an aircraft or sling loaded. As a whole the group really likes the kit, it could be a good asset to them."
This training mission is United States Southern Command-sponsored with National Defense University as the project technical manager. Joint capability technology demonstration is run by the Office of Secretary of Defense.
JTF-Bravo is committed to full partnerships with Central American governments in training and missions to support security, stability and prosperity throughout the region. Our neighbors in Central America can count on America, and via U.S. Southern Command, we'll provide equipment and capabilities to assist in their time of need.