Honduran military, U.S. Army Soldiers spread goodwill during humanitarian mission
By Dialogo August 20, 2010
Despite its scenic views, clear oceans and metropolitan capital, people living in remote areas of Honduras lack many basic services.
For the remote towns of Chacalapa and Guadalupe Carney, located on the northern department of Colon, quality of life is poor due to the lack of medical services, education and other basic needs.
Aware of the growing problems in these areas, Honduran military officials conducted a recent two-day Medical and Civic Assistance Program or MEDCAP mission in Chacalapa and Guadalupe Carney while working with a group of U.S. Army Civil Affairs Soldiers in order to improve the quality of life for these respective citizens.
During the event, dozens of Honduran soldiers, military and civilian medical doctors, with the assistance of U.S. CA Soldiers assigned to Company B, 98th Battalion, 95th CA Brigade (Airborne), currently under the operational control of Special Operations Command-South (SOCSOUTH), provided free medical care to more than 5,000 Honduran citizens during the two-day MEDCAP.
“We are here to provide general medical screenings, orthodontic services, distribute free medicine, and provide other basic needs during this mission,” said Honduran Col. Wilfredo Efruhin Oliva, the director of Plans and Civil Affairs for the Estado Mayor Conjunto in Tegucigalpa. “We are here to bring some solutions to some of the health problems in this community and show the people we care about them.”
SOCSOUTH is responsible for all special operations in the Caribbean, Central and South America. Through the command’s Theater Security Cooperation Program, special operations Soldiers work closely with their partner nation counterparts in order for them to better protect their borders and increase their capacity to conduct civic action programs such as the MEDCAPs conducted in the Department of Colon. SOCSOUTH is the Special operation component of U.S. Southern Command.
Along with helping the local citizens, the MEDCAP allows the Honduran military to assess the security in the area and research for any suspicious activity. With the location of the towns so remote, the area has been used as a drug trafficking route throughout the region.
“Along with helping the people, we are working to combat narco-trafficking in this area,” said Oliva. “In order for us to do that, we have to gain the trust of the people and talk to them. Today was a good start, and they are grateful but it is not enough.”
For the CA team, based out of Fort Bragg, N.C., working with their Honduran partners was had two tangible benefits. The first was to help plan the event and assist with the purchase of medical supplies to enable the Honduran military to distribute them to the people free of charge. The second was to continue to enhance the capabilities and capacity of the Honduran military.
“We assisted in the planning of this event with Honduran Civil Affairs and municipal government leaders. This civic action project is based on addressing the needs of their most vulnerable populations. We were able to help them with the purchase of medicine and school supplies,” said the CA team leader.