NEWS | May 19, 2013

C-SAT, COPECO train for disaster response

By Maj. Angelic Dolan Joint Task Force-Bravo Public Affairs

Seventeen service members from Joint Task Force-Bravo were recalled and transported to Puerto Castilla to join the Honduran Comision Permanente de Contingencias (COPECO), during a Central America Survey and Assessment Team (C-SAT) exercise, May 15-16.

"When tasked, the C-SAT team must respond quickly and efficiently to natural disasters or humanitarian assistance notifications in the Central America Region," said U.S. Air Force Maj. David Lee, C-SAT Planner. "We have 16-hours from notification to launch, in order to be on the ground anywhere in Central America within 24-hours. Once there, we conduct an assessment alongside U.S Agency for International Development, Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance and local COPECO representatives before military forces are deployed."

The team exercised the C-SAT launch sequence and validated the C-SAT standard operating procedures. Once on the ground in Puerto Castilla, the team partnered with COPECO to run through a simulated hurricane landfall disaster scenario and determine the actions each agency would accomplish during a disaster.

"Once we landed, we set-up camp and met with the COPECO team, the equivalent to the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency. As a team we discussed the simulated affected areas impacted by the hurricane, roads that were flooded, areas to set-up shelter and the coordination needed to provide supplies and aid to the affected areas," Lee added.

U.S. Southern Command's foreign humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions and programs are a central part of the U.S. Government's effort to save lives, alleviate suffering, and enhance security and stability in Central America.

"The foreign humanitarian assistance programs assist host nations in responding to disasters and builds on their self-sufficiency while also empowering regional organizations. We seek opportunities to deepen our engagement with COPECO to address these security challenges," said U.S. Army Lt. Col Jay Liddick, C-SAT team lead.

Nations of this hemisphere have faced devastating disasters - earthquakes, floods, hurricanes fires - that have destroyed lives and property. Joint Task Force-Bravo serves as USSOUTHCOM's immediate assessment and response element for natural disasters or foreign humanitarian assistance situations anywhere in Central America.

"The C-SAT exercise will yield long-term dividends in enhancing our partner nation preparedness and cooperation activities in responding to catastrophes, especially during the initial stages of a crisis," said Liddick.