SOTO CANO AIR BASE, Honduras –
As the U.S. government puts more emphasis on Central America and pays more attention to the security issues facing the region, the mission of Joint Task Force-Bravo remains critical and is the leading edge of the Department of Defense's efforts not only in the area but in the western hemisphere, Dr. Rebecca B. Chavez, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Western Hemisphere Affairs, said Thursday during her final stop here in Honduras.
"The Department of Defense views Central America as a priority region," Chavez added. "As part of our strategic vision of partnerships, we want to focus on willing partners and we see Honduras as one of those willing partners and want to continue moving the relationship forward."
Chavez considered visiting the task force as one of her priorities during her trip to the region. She engaged with JTF-B leadership and ate lunch with personnel to gain a different perspective of the ongoing operations at Soto Cano.
"I've always understood the importance of the mission here, but actually seeing it and meeting with our servicemembers really brought home the significance of what they do every day," Chavez stated. "It is very valuable for me to hear the perspectives of the people who are working with the Hondurans on a day-to-day basis and learn about their outlook on the potential of this growing relationship."
The western hemisphere policy-maker also gained first-hand knowledge of the multiple missions performed by the 1-228th Aviation Regiment, 612th Air Base Squadron, Joint Security Forces, Medical Element, Army Forces Battalion and Army Support Agency through a dynamic command tour.
In fulfilling the missions of building partnership capacity and providing humanitarian assistance/disaster relief, Chavez considers Joint Task Force-Bravo as ambassadors to the Central American countries.
"I see here a true partnership between U.S. forces and Hondurans but JTF-Bravo is also an essential tool in advancing broader defense cooperation. This task force is a key Department of Defense ambassador not only to Honduras but to Central America through building partner capacity efforts and humanitarian assistance which supports our strategic vision in the region."
Before departing Soto Cano Air Base, Chavez echoed her appreciation to the men and women of Joint Task Force-Bravo as they perform their duties in this all too important mission.
"When there is a crisis in this region, whether it is an earthquake or hurricane, who responds first? It's the folks of JTF-Bravo. Not only is it vital to help our partners, it also sends an important message to the Central American countries letting them know that you are there for them."
As the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Chavez oversees security strategy and policy issues involving the countries of the hemisphere as well as U.S. government funding of hemispheric defense cooperation programs and the integration of U.S. Northern Command and U.S. Southern Command for Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel.