GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala –
Leadership with Joint Task Force-Bravo (JTF-B) conducted an operational familiarization visit, July 19-21, to meet, engage and interact with three civil affairs teams (CAT) who are forward deployed from Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras.
The Guatemalan teams are located in Guatemala City, Quetzaltenango and Huehuetenango.
“They are there in support of U.S. Southern Command’s (USSOUTHCOM) operations,” said U.S. Army Maj. Andrew Dacey, commander of Delta Company with the 478th Civil Affairs Battalion (Airborne), JTF-B. “Their purpose is to identify and mitigate sources of instability in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.”
The U.S. government provides resources to Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras in an effort to remain a committed partner by strengthening relationships and trust through shared values.
“It’s important to have civil affairs teams in Guatemala because there is instability due to a lack of essential services and security as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and that was exacerbated by Hurricanes Eta and Iota,” said Dacey. “The lack of resources and employment makes the local population vulnerable to trans-national criminal organizations, and the decreased stability reduces the economic prosperity for the region which increases the frequency of migration.”
Without civil affairs working closely with Central American governments in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, sources of instability would go unnoticed and high-impact projects that achieve improvements in security, economic and health environments wouldn’t exist.
“We’re here to help work with JTF-B and the people of Guatemala in order to strengthen our partnerships,” said U.S. Army Capt. Russell Ross, team chief for CAT 4741 with the 478th CAB (Airborne), JTF-B. “My team works to mitigate migration that’s occurring in the area due to several different factors.”
The CATs within Guatemala do this through USSOUTHCOM’s Humanitarian Assistance Program (HAP) and routine training.
“We utilize the HAP, as well as doing specific training with different organizations in combat life saver and other types of capabilities in order to help them be more prepared to govern themselves,” said Ross. “This helps them provide jobs and infrastructure, as well as combat any type of threats that Guatemala may face.”
During the visit, CAT 4741 and leadership with JTF-B donated humanitarian supplies to the National Coordination for Disaster Reduction (CONRED), a first-response organization that works to prevent disasters or reduce their impact on society, as well as coordinate disaster relief efforts.
“We donated over 1,000 hygiene kits and 400 mattresses and cots to CONRED because Guatemala has a lot of refugees and displaced people from different volcanoes or natural disasters they experience each year – not only from hurricanes, but from landslides, volcanic activity and earthquakes,” said Ross. “Doing this donation helps provide Guatemala with the resources to help those people with hygiene and a place to sleep until they can reconstruct their homes and move back in.”