SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador –
Two U. S. Southern Command Situational Assessment Teams, referred to as SSAT, participated in FA-HUM 2014 in El Salvador the second week in May.
The first team of four flew in via an UH-60 Black Hawk to the U.S. Embassy from Joint Task Force-Bravo, Honduras a little more than an hour's flight away. The other SSAT, consisting of eight personnel, arrived two days later by commercial air from Army South headquarters in San Antonio. In the event of a humanitarian situation or disaster, both teams were to provide analysis and help the Embassy team coordinate for assistance. In this case, it was practice for an exercise.
It was a first for Army South to deploy the SSAT. And as with many firsts, there were hiccups along the way.
"There were challenges and lessons learned that we'll improve upon for next time," said Maj. Marshall Scantlin, an exercise and plans officer with Army South Civil Affairs. He said Army South is looking into other SSAT participation opportunities.
Lt. Col. Alan McKewan, Army Forces Battalion commander for Joint Task Force Bravo, witnessed the SSAT's first tactical insertion alongside the Ambassador when his team landed on the Embassy's lawn May 9. Before he departed with the team by helicopter May 15, this time from the soccer field at the nearby military academy, the General Gerardo Barrias Escuela Miliatar, McKewan said he was very impressed with both SSATs.
"It was extremely rewarding that we got the chance to integrate with the country team and the security cooperation office. These types of exercises allow us to rehearse and train so we're better prepared to execute this type of mission for real. Because it's not a case of if, it's a case of when."