SOTO CANO AIR BASE, Honduras –
Fifteen general and flag officers from the National Defense University's (NDU) CAPSTONE class 14-4 toured and received capability briefs from Joint Task Force-Bravo and the major support commands during their overseas field study trip to Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras, August 2, 2014.
The CAPSTONE General and Flag Officer Course is an intensive five-week course consisting of seminars, case studies, informal discussions, and visits to key U. S. military commands where the objective is to make all newly selected general and flag officers more effective in planning and employing U. S. forces in joint and combined operations.
"This course gives us an overview of how joint task forces, inter-agencies, country teams and host nations operate together in the military setting," said U. S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Tim Gibson, Director for Joint Integration, Operations, Plans and Requirements, Headquarters U. S. Air Force , Washington D. C. "We first visited U. S. Southern Command and Joint Interagency Task Force-South so coming here to Soto Cano gives us the overall picture of how the tactical and strategic level operations work together in the host nation."
The class began their tour at the 1-228th Aviation Regiment helicopter ramp where they learned about the various equipment used by the UH-60 Blackhawks and CH-47 Chinooks to perform heavy lift, medical evacuation, fire fighting and general aviation support to counter narcotic and humanitarian assistance/disaster relief missions.
Next, the group observed how the Army Forces Battalion deploys their Southern Command Situational Assessment Team (SSAT) utilizing the Pre-Positioned Expeditionary Assistance Kit (PEAK) which provides drinking water from local sources, power from renewable sources and communication services during a humanitarian assistance/disaster relief operation.
Then the course group climbed up the 612th Air Base Squadron air traffic control tower to see a bird's eye view of the base, learned about the improvements made to the runway and discovered that Soto Cano is the only airfield in Central America that can accommodate a C-5 Galaxy cargo aircraft. Gibson expressed how much Soto Cano has changed for the better over the years.
"I've flown C-5s into Soto Cano over the years and I've seen it evolve dramatically quite frankly," added Gibson. "The time and investment that we've spent here working with our Honduran partners has obviously paid off. The air field is in better shape than I've ever seen and when the new radar comes online it'll be that much more capable. Soto Cano really gives us that strategic entry point into Central America and the soldiers, airmen and sailors at Joint Task Force-Bravo are doing fantastic work."
On the class' final tour stop, they learned about the Medical Element's surgical, medical and dental capabilities on base as well as the deployable medical and surgical assets and witnessed the first ever Advanced Trauma Life Support class to be taught by a Honduran medical team.
Before departing Honduras for their next destination, the CAPSTONE Fellows enjoyed a taste of Honduras' culture with an authentic meal named Plato Tipico which included beef, chicken, beans, rice, avocado, pico de gallo and fried plantains. They also watched a Honduran dance troop perform a number of dances as well.
U. S. Army Col. Kirk Dorr, Joint Task Force-Bravo commander, believes that this trip will boost the educational experience and understanding of how Joint Task Force-Bravo fits into the big picture of the region.
"It was a true honor and privilege to introduce Joint Task Force Bravo to these newly promoted active duty one star general and flag officers," stated Dorr. "I believe you can enhance Joint Professional Military Education with a site visit such as this one. These senior leaders travelled a long way to get to Honduras, so we really wanted to showcase the full suite of JTF-Bravo capabilities, while also demonstrating how we tie in with Southern Command and the whole of government approach we follow to strengthen regional security and stability in Central America."