JTF-Bravo Assets Return from Guatemala, Continue Relief Support in Honduras
By U.S. Air Force Captain Rachel Salpietra/Joint Task Force Bravo December 07, 2020
A task force of approximately 25 people and three aircraft assigned to the 1st Battalion, 228th Aviation Regiment, Joint Task Force Bravo (JTF-Bravo) returned to Honduras from Guatemala City, Guatemala, on November 28.
Their return comes after the U.S. military personnel rapidly deployed to Guatemala City for a second time on November 21 to assist local government officials in rescue and recovery efforts and the distribution of immediate life-saving humanitarian assistance goods, such as food, and humanitarian commodities such as plastic sheeting and hygiene kits.
“I’ve been extremely impressed with our team in Guatemala,” said U.S. Army Colonel John D. Litchfield, JTF-Bravo commander. “They’ve done a lot with a small team. Our ability to help our partners save lives is dependent on our enduring relationships in the region and the willingness of individuals to step up and do great deeds. I couldn’t be more proud.”
In total, between both hurricanes Eta and Iota, the task force rescued 62 Guatemalan citizens, transported 26 rescue workers to communities cut off by the impact of the disaster, delivered 128,650 pounds of life-saving aid, and delivered 142,860 pounds of relief supplies in support of the USAID-led humanitarian response.
“This was an amazing example of an interagency and multinational effort,” said U.S. Army Colonel Michael Burgoyne, the senior Defense official in Guatemala. “Team DoD [Department of Defense] Guatemala and USAID worked hand in hand with CONRED [Guatemala’s National Coordinator for Disaster Reduction] and our Guatemalan military partners. The presence of Salvadoran and Colombian aircraft also speaks to the regional team that came together to support the Guatemalan people.”
U.S. military forces that support the immediate-response and relief efforts do so at the request of USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance and in coordination with the partner nation and United Nation agencies. In this situation, Guatemala requested the unique personnel and capabilities to help transport relief supplies to communities that were initially cut off by Hurricane Eta, and later Hurricane Iota.
As floodwaters start to recede and roads reopen, the main efforts supported by the U.S. military have transitioned to the government of Guatemala, as well as international organizations and nongovernmental organizations. Members of USAID’s Disaster Assistance Response Team remain in Guatemala to lead the U.S. humanitarian response efforts.
The crews that were supporting immediate response efforts in Guatemala are transitioning to support USAID and the continued response in heavily affected areas in Honduras.
Many areas in Honduras remain either overtaken by slow to recede flood waters or are susceptible to mudslides and other post-hurricane related issues.
As with Guatemala, all U.S. military actions in response to relief efforts for Hurricanes Eta and Iota in Honduras remain at the request of USAID and in close coordination with the Honduran government.