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News | June 13, 2022

Medical Readiness Training Exercise strengthens local partnerships and skills

By Maria Pinel JTF-Bravo Public Affairs

As part of the U.S. Southern Command’s enduring partnership to Central America, Joint Task Force-Bravo executed a three-day Global Health Engagement in Comayagua, Honduras, June 1-3, working side by side with local military and Ministry of Health personnel.

The mission was conducted in El Ciruelo, Portillo de la Mora and Las Mesas, and included services such as preventive medicine, primary care, dental services and pharmacy. The local Ministry of Health also provided COVID-19 vaccination for children and adults, as well as influenza shots.

While these medical missions strengthen partnerships with the host nation and provide real-world benefits to local communities, the U.S. military is gaining valuable skills that make them a ready and expeditionary force.

“The conditions that we are working in here are much different than those back home. If we had to deploy, we may not have a medical facility to fall in on and we might have to execute in a location similar to this one. This is challenging us and testing our capabilities, and causes you to think outside the box,” said U.S. Army Major Nicole Herbst, medical plans and operations officer with Army Forces Battalion and officer in charge of the medical mission.

In addition to medical readiness, participants prepare in military planning and coordination, involving different units that play a part in security, communications, and logistics.

“There’s a lot of planning that goes on behind the scenes to get to the point of execution. We work with our [Military Police] and the local Honduran Air Force at Soto Cano to provide security for these missions, as well as with our J2 to know if there are any concerns we should be aware of,” said Herbst. “This helps us fine tune our processes and definitely helps with cohesion. We also gain from cultural interactions and working with a very diverse group of people, and working through communication barriers, as well as getting more familiar with our supplies and brushing up on skills we may not have needed to rely on.”

JTF-B is one of two task forces under the USSOUTHCOM and is the longest standing task force in U.S. military history with a long history of medical, engineering, disaster relief and humanitarian assistance support throughout Honduras. The task force has been conducting GHE since 1993 and was able to assist more than 700 patients during the recent three-day mission in Comayagua.