SOTO CANO AIR BASE, Honduras –
A recent training exercise conducted by Joint Task Force-Bravo's 1-228th Aviation Regiment provided not only training, but also had the additional effect of positively impacting the ongoing partnership between the United States and Honduras.
The 1-228th recently completed a Collective Training Exercise, during which the unit set up a tactical field operating location at Mocoron, a remote Honduran military outpost located in the Department of Gracias a Dios, Honduras. While the primary goal of the exercise was to conduct training, the U.S. presence in such a remote area also provided an opportunity for building on the strong U.S./Honduran relationship. In conducting the exercise, the 1-228th built on their strong relationship with a Honduran Army Battalion at Mocoron.
"We are tied in well with the fully vetted Honduran 5th Infantry Battalion, which has been our faithful partner for years," said U.S. Army Maj. Kenneth Ferguson, 1-228th Aviation Regiment Operations Officer. "So when we come out here, we make contact with their chain of command and we can do any opportunity missions to support them as long as we have approval."
During the exercise, U.S. Army Col. Thomas Boccardi, Joint Task Force-Bravo Commander, made the trip to Mocoron to meet and visit with Honduran Lt. Col. Santos Colindres, Deputy Commander of the Honduran 5th Infantry Battalion.
"We have shared objectives, which have to do with the stability of the region," said Boccardi. "He is in a region, Gracias a Dios, that is heavily infested with drug trafficking organizations. So he has to deal not just with the operational piece of that, but also with the logistical piece of having to take care of his service members who are working out there."
Boccardi said a large part of his discussion with Colindres centered on what Joint Task Force-Bravo can do to provide support to the Hondurans operating in the remote region.
"It is a volatile area," said Boccardi. "It is under-governed and under-serviced, and they simply don't have resources. So we talked about what are his needs and how can we help to sustain some of those needs."
U.S. Army Lt. Col. E.J. Irvin, 1-228th Aviation Regiment Commander, said that conducting the exercise in the remote area and interacting with the Honduran military there served to increase the capability of the U.S. and Honduran forces to work together as a team.
"You can't put a price tag on the value of the relationship with have with the Hondurans," said Irvin. "While we are out here, they are assisting us in providing security, helping with cooking our meals, with housing, and we are assisting them with things as well. With them helping us and us helping them, it makes us more of a team. Our whole job here is to continue to have the U.S. and Hondurans work together as a team. I think by doing exercises like this, coming out here, and doing engagements with the leadership, that goes a long way in building that partner nation capacity."