JTF-Bravo Resumes Support Operations in Honduras and Guatemala
By Kay Valle/Diálogo November 23, 2020
Only days after supporting Central American countries, following the devastation caused by Hurricane Eta, teams of U.S. Southern Command’s (SOUTHCOM) Joint Task Force Bravo (JTF-Bravo) are back in Honduras and Guatemala to provide assistance to areas affected by Hurricane Iota. Both hurricanes hit Central America within two weeks, causing landslides and flooding that displaced entire communities and left dozens of people missing and dead.
On November 18, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) announced that it was allocating an additional $17 million in vital aid to the people who had been affected in Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. The donation will provide food, hygiene supplies, critical relief items, and protection to the most vulnerable people.
“Our team is ready to continue the fight,” U.S. Army Colonel John D. Litchfield, commander of JTF-Bravo, said in a statement. “We are proud to continue working with our partners and USAID to get supplies to those who need it most. Our hearts go out to everyone who has been affected by these storms.”
Teams of the U.S. force will focus primarily on delivering humanitarian aid to hard-to-reach areas in the region, and will support search and rescue efforts, JTF-Bravo’s Public Affairs Office said in a statement.
According to a report from the government of Honduras, six departments in the northwestern part of the country were hit by this latest hurricane, leaving more than 738,000 people affected and causing damage to homes, public infrastructure, and cultivated areas.
In Guatemala, Army Colonel Rubén Antonio Téllez, press director for the Guatemalan Defense Ministry, told Diálogo that the rains from Iota once again affected areas prone to landslides in the departments of Alta Verapaz, Quiché, and Zacapa.
The U.S. Embassy in Guatemala indicated on its Twitter account that two JTF-Bravo CH-47 Chinook helicopters had deployed “to work with @Army_GT [Guatemalan Army], bringing food and supplies to areas most affected by storm #Iota.”
During its rescue and humanitarian support missions to communities affected by Eta in Honduras, Guatemala, and Panama, JTF-Bravo rescued 289 people and transported more than 171 metric tons of life-saving supplies, according to the force’s Public Affairs Office.
“This result that we’ve had of support is thanks to that great collaboration and understanding with the [U.S.] Department of Defense and SOUTHCOM,” General (ret.) Fredy Santiago Díaz Zelaya, secretary of defense of Honduras, told Diálogo. “We are grateful to Admiral [Craig] Faller [commander of SOUTHCOM] for his great leadership and above all for being so attentive to Honduras, for his willingness, and great support.”