SOTO CANO AIR BASE, Honduras –
A Marine Forces South (MARFORSOUTH) Security Cooperation Team is utilizing Soto Cano Air Base as a logistical hub for ongoing partner nation operations in several Central American Countries.
The Security Cooperation Team arrived here last week, and is conducting partnered training that will help build partner nation capacity and promote stability throughout the region. The Marines were split into units consisting of subject matter experts. These units are tasked with conducting partnered training with military forces within the countries of Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras.
"The Security Cooperation Team was brought together from different units, and each of these individuals has specific skill sets we can bring to our partner nations to work with their Marines and defense forces," said U.S. Marine Maj. Andrew Dirkes, the Officer-in-Charge of the MARFORSOUTH Security and Cooperation Team. "Our main purpose is to help build our partner nations' capacity, to better enable them to perform operations whether that is counter-narcotics or securing their own borders."
While MARFORSOUTH Security Cooperation teams have worked in Central America in the past, this is the first time the Marines have built a consistent relationship with partner nations. The Security Cooperation teams are scheduled to train with the partner nations throughout the year, and then will be replaced by another team that will continue to build on their success.
"Maintaining a consistent presence allows us to develop deeper relationships with our partner nations and a better understanding of where we can help," said Dirkes. "It also gives us an opportunity to gain more understanding of how our partner nations work and to learn from them as well."
Soto Cano's location makes it an ideal staging area for the logistics needs of the team.
"We have a headquarters section here, and I can provide support to our teams downrange," said Dirkes. "Because of the air base, we have the capability to fly in all of our logistical needs. We can have everything sent here and then we're able to send it out to them."
Dirkes said he has been impressed with the support received from Joint Task Force-Bravo as the team has worked to establish its logistic hub at Soto Cano.
"I've been amazed at how supportive everyone under the Joint Task Force-Bravo umbrella has been," said Dirkes. "We've had nothing but incredible support. This has been a very welcoming and extremely supportive environment."