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News | April 28, 2008

U.S. civilian leaders visit JTF-Bravo

By Tech. Sgt. John Asselin Joint Task Force-Bravo public affairs

Forty-nine civilian leaders visited Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras, April 24 to get a glimpse into the Joint Task Force-Bravo mission and a taste of what life is like at a joint base in Central America. 

The civilian leaders were participants in the Joint Civilian Orientation Conference, a program sponsored by the Secretary of Defense for civilian leaders interested in learning about the military and national defense issues. 

"This program is important because it lets civilian leaders learn about the lesser-known -- but extremely important -- military activities conducted in our "backyard" -- the Western Hemisphere," said Lt. Col. Ott, JTF-Bravo deputy commander. "This group was intelligent and well-informed and wanted to learn more about what the men and women of the armed forces are all about. They were especially concerned about the "human" aspect of the military." 

The tour of JTF-Bravo was part of a trip to the U.S. Southern Command area of responsibility, including Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; Brazil; Columbia and Key West, Fla. During the one-day visit to Soto Cano, JCOC members participated in a disaster-response slingload operation; rappelled with search and rescue teams at the rappel tower; extinguished a live fire with firefighters at the burn house; and visited the mobile surgical team, where they saw first-hand how JTF-Bravo sets up a surgical unit in areas of need during a disaster. 

"Today was the highlight of our entire trip - it was simply incredible," said Meredith Iler, president of Strategic Alliance and JCOC participant. "It was awesome to see our guys doing what they do best and teach us the same way they teach new troops." 

The group also had an MRE lunch with junior JTF-Bravo troops who showed them their living quarters, work areas and recreation facilities. 

"It was great meeting the young troops and seeing where they live and work," said Dr. Lorenzo Garcia, superintendent of schools, El Paso Independent School District, El Paso, Texas. 

"The troops we spent time with today were incredible," added Pat Curran, executive vice president of Wal-Mart Stores. "It was great to see how excited they are about what they do." 

Ms. Iler added it was critical the group could come to Soto Cano and see what the men and women of JTF-Bravo do daily. 

"In this hot pocket of the world, it was great to see what you [JTF-Bravo] can do as far as humanitarian assistance and the ability to respond quickly," she said.