SOTO CANO AIR BASE, Honduras —
Joint Task Force – Bravo, a task force under the U.S. Southern Command and the oldest standing task force in U.S. military history, hosts approximately 500 U.S. military personnel – a relatively small team but a strong, qualified and competent force that has left a long lasting footprint in a rapidly changing and vulnerable region.
Admiral Craig Faller, SOUTHCOM commander, took some time during a regional visit across Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and Costa Rica to address the men and women of JTF-Bravo and remind them why their presence in this region matters.
“Strong partnerships and strong teamwork, like the one we are trying to foster here, is what wins. Relationships, teamwork – it wins,” said Faller. “This has been an important strategic location for more than 30 years and that provides stability. What we have seen is that our presence - our physical presence - knowing that we are here is reassuring”
SOUTHCOM works with five other regional combatant commands and is the single entity to work military-to-military relations in Latin America and the Caribbean, spanning over 31 countries. JTF-Bravo is its forward element, providing air movement capabilities, rapid on site assessment in the event of a crisis, and is strategically positioned at the center of the Americas, allowing the task force to rapidly deploy wherever needed in the area of operations within hours notice.
JTF-Bravo is here as the physical manifestation of U.S. presence and support in the region, deterring malign state influence through partnership engagements and living up to the shared values of freedom, democracy, respect for human rights and the rule of law.
“Key to fighting those threats are strong teams,” said Faller. “We have to remain the best morally, mentally, and physically ready and at the top of our game to remain the partner of choice. We have to be the best trained and equipped and you [JTF-Bravo] are making a difference, it starts with you.”
COVID-19 has hit the region particularly hard, but JTF-Bravo and SOUTHCOM answered the call through the Humanitarian Assistance Program, providing more than $18 million dollars in donations, including mobile hospitals and personal protective equipment throughout the area of operations. Overall, the U.S. has provided 220 million dollars of assistance in Latin America and the Caribbean, and JTF-Bravo has been a part of it, assisting regional partners since the early stages of the pandemic.
“We are all dealing with this COVID environment together. Millions of dollars just from SOUTHCOM are facilitated by our teams to help partners stay strong, because together we’re stronger,” said Faller. “Know that while the mission aspects may have changed, what JTF-Bravo is doing here is making a difference.”
The Admiral closed his time with the troops by challenging them to stay physically and mentally fit, and motivating them to continue strengthening their skills and professionalism to remain the best. He also exhorted the men and women at Soto Cano to value partnerships because what they do matters to the safety of this hemisphere and to the U.S. military as a whole.
“We want JTF-Bravo to be more expeditionary, to be able to move to where it might be needed, to respond rapidly; we want our team to leave here more ready than when they arrived,” said Faller. “Your presence and your engagements with partners improves their readiness - to build those lasting relationships so that when the next big fight comes we are ready to do it together. Rapid response readiness is core to the mission, and I couldn’t be more proud of the great work JTF-Bravo does day in and day out.”