SOTO CANO AIR BASE, Honduras –
U.S. military personnel assigned to Joint Task Force Bravo, Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras, will conduct a joint humanitarian exercise with Panamanian Public Security forces in various regions of Panama, Jan. 21 to Feb. 1.
JTF-Bravo, a task force under the U.S. Southern Command, will be working alongside the Panamanian National Border Service and the National Aeronaval Service to conduct the second iteration of Humanitarian Exercise Mercury, a bilateral exercise between partner nations that strengthens competencies for a joint disaster response.
“The importance of the exercise we are conducting with our Panamanian partners was best demonstrated with Hurricane Eta two months ago. As this exercise progresses, our service members will be able to establish lasting relationships with Panama and public forces located throughout the region,” said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Kelly Boian, JTF-Bravo exercise director. “These relationships will better assist JTF-Bravo and Panama in responding to the next challenge.”
The exercise will include the use of U.S. Army CH-47 Chinook and UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters assigned to the 1-228th Aviation Regiment. JTF-Bravo will also use a U.S. Air Force C-130 Hercules and a C-17 Globemaster aircraft to transport equipment and personnel into Panama City, beginning on Jan 13. Air movement will be conducted in Panama City and the Darien region throughout the duration of the exercise.
“Thanks to disaster readiness training like this, Panamanian and U.S. personnel were able to work together in an impressive way last year during Hurricane Eta; and we managed to save many lives in Panama. The exercise that we begin this month will further strengthen our capacities to be ready for those disasters, which we hope to never face, but we want to be prepared for. Panama is one of our main partners in the region and we are committed to continue working together so that Panamanians and the entire region are safe,” said Stewart Tuttle, Chargé d’Affaires, US Embassy in Panama.
“Our aviators will be working to strengthen our Panamanian partners’ capacity,” said Lt. Col. Adam Bock, 1-228 commander. “Together we can conduct safe and effective training to sustain our cooperation and capability to respond to contingencies similar to our joint disaster response following Hurricane Eta.”
Exercise Mercury reflects the enduring commitment of the U.S. to working together with regional partners to be ready to address real-world humanitarian assistance or disaster response situations.