SOTO CANO AIR BASE, Honduras —
As life-saving efforts continue in Honduras, Panama and Guatemala, Joint Task Force-Bravo begins to transition from rescue operations to delivery of necessary aid to communities that have been cut-off for days since Hurricane Eta passed through Central America.
Adm. Craig S. Faller, commander of the U.S Southern Command, is authorized to direct assigned forces at or near the immediate scene of a foreign disaster to take prompt action to save human lives. The Acting Secretary of Defense, Christopher Miller, has extended Joint Task Force-Bravo’s mission until Nov. 16, 2020, and authorized additional funding for overseas humanitarian, disaster assistance, and civic aid.
“More and more of the search and rescue is being taken over by the host nations,” said Col John D. Litchfield, JTF-B commander. “The decision to push for another four days is timely. It gives us time to transition our relief efforts over to our partners as well.”
At the request of the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance, JTF-Bravo has also begun delivery of humanitarian aid and disaster relief in Guatemala and Honduras. The first delivery of USAID humanitarian supplies commenced Nov. 9, in the department of Cortés, Honduras.
This mission has been a collaborative effort between the host nations’ governments and organizations, SOUTHCOM, USAID and the U.S. Embassies in each country.
“In Honduras, Panama and Guatemala, our support has been a coordinated and cooperative relationship with the respective governments, building partnerships and following their leadership throughout the recovery effort,” said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Adam Bock, 1st Battalion, 228th Aviation Regiment commander, currently deployed to Panama.
There are now approximately 250 troops from JTF-Bravo, U.S. Army South, Special Operations Command South, and other U.S. Southern Command entities distributed amongst Honduras, Panama and Guatemala.
As of this morning, we have rescued 138 Central American citizens, transported 55 rescue workers to communities in need that were isolated due to the disaster, and delivered 236 thousand pounds of life-saving supplies.
The mission of JTF-Bravo includes being prepared to support disaster relief operations in Central America, South America and the Caribbean, when directed by U.S. Southern Command. JTF-Bravo conducts constant training both on base and with partners across Central America to prepare for contingency operations, which allows our forces to integrate with each other for a unified response when a disaster strikes.