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NEWS | Aug. 3, 2022

Strengthening partnerships before the storm

By Capt Patrick Gargan JTF-Bravo Public Affairs Office

U.S. military and civilian personnel from Joint Task Force-Bravo (JTF-Bravo), a unit under the U.S. Southern Command (U.S. SOUTHCOM) based out of Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras, the U.S. Agency for International Development Bureau of Humanitarian Assistance (USAID/BHA), integrated efforts with the Salvadoran Armed Forces and Civil Protection System during Sentinel Watch, a combined training exercise to build disaster response readiness, 27-28 July.

The two-day event included pre-planned briefings in which each organization shared their own emergency response capabilities and procedures. The planned briefs were followed by over ten hours of impromptu scenario-based integrated training between the regional emergency response teams of El Salvador and the U.S.

"It’s great to see everyone leaning in on this and the collaboration between our countries building off of previous events just like this,” said U.S. Army MAJ Robert Mixon, JTF-Bravo, J9 director. “These long-lasting efforts between our countries is how we save lives and improve response efforts for generations to come.”

Training included Salvadoran and U.S. representatives from operations, logistics, medical, communications, information, and command and control. The frequency of natural disasters impacting Central America highlights the importance of cooperation and training.

After completing the training, participants gained an improved awareness of the capabilities each organization can provide during a disaster response.

“This exercise that has been weeks in the planning with JTF-Bravo, is something that will not only help us identify the needs and backsets in coordination between the first response agencies, but it also gives us an opportunity to get to know each other. This will be important when we are on the field and when we are there, we will know what our competencies are regarding the needed response,” said Luis Amaya, director of the Salvadoran Civil Protection System.

Participants also engaged across lines of effort to help eliminate inadvertent redundant efforts which can take time to correct when rapid response is key to potentially lifesaving support.

“Getting the right support to the right people at the right time is what it is all about. The actions we are able to refine through events like this pay huge rewards when our support is needed,” said Ms. Jennifer Glossinger, USAID/BHA Civil-Military Operations representative. “At our core, USAID’s objective is to support partners to become self-reliant and capable of leading their own development journey."

USAID has worked together with the government and people of El Salvador since January 1962 in an effort to improve the health and well-being of Salvadorans. In 2021, USAID responded to 82 crisis events across 62 countries globally.

As part of U.S. SOUTHCOM’s enduring promise to its regional partners, JTF-Bravo continues to provide rapid support and services, when requested through USAID as the lead federal agency during a humanitarian crisis or natural disaster response.

One historic example of JTF-Bravo supporting Salvadorans is the emergency response efforts following massive flooding and related mud slides in November 2009. At the request of the government of El Salvador, working through USAID, JTF-Bravo transported over 300,000 pounds of aid in two weeks to communities in need.