Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force-Southern Command (SPMAGTF-SC) officially kicked off its 2019 deployment with an opening ceremony at Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras, June 21.
Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández and U.S. Navy Admiral Craig S. Faller, commander of U.S. Southern Command, attended to welcome the SPMAGTF-SC multinational team and reaffirm the importance of this deployment.
“The [SPMAGTF-SC] is one of the many ways U.S. Southern Command is strengthening partnerships here in Honduras and throughout Latin America and the Caribbean,” said Adm. Faller. “The depth and breadth of our engagement runs the gamut from security cooperation and humanitarian missions like this one, to multinational exercises.”
SPMAGTF-SC is made of approximately 300 U.S. marines and sailors from various units spread across the United States and a multinational staff that includes partner nations’ service members from Brazil, Colombia, Peru, Chile, Argentina, Belize, and the Dominican Republic. The integration of regional partners for the deployment marks another milestone in developing a Multinational Maritime Task Force that will enhance humanitarian assistance and disaster response in the Latin America and Caribbean region.
For the second consecutive year, a partner nation military officer will lead the task force as the deputy commander.
Colombian Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel Eduar Alexander Michaels Bravo, SPMAGTF-SC deputy commander, said the primary purpose of the multinational force is to be ready to respond to any emergency caused by a natural disaster, and that the force is here to support the armed forces of partner nations.
The task force’s mission is to work with partner nations to build security force capabilities in Latin America and the Caribbean through recurrent training events. It is also trained and equipped to provide timely responses to natural disasters and other crisis situations in the region.
“Our task organization and training will allow us to be the primary crisis response partner of choice,” said U.S. Marine Corps Colonel Robert Meade, SPMAGTF-SC commanding officer. “It’s also another large step toward the creation of the Multinational Maritime Task Force, which will be critical to regional assistance in the case of a natural disaster.”
SPMAGTF-SC will train and operate in the region from June to December to coincide with hurricane season and is scheduled to work in Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador.
The deployment enables partner nations’ militaries to improve regional capacity and facilitate humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations in case of a major disaster while simultaneously improving U.S. and partner nations’ interoperability and readiness.
“Experience has taught us that in the aftermath of natural disasters, infrastructure to support response forces is seldom available. Therefore, our ability to respond quickly and effectively is directly linked to our interoperability with our navies,” said U.S. Marine Corps Major General Michael F. Fahey III, commander of U.S. Marine Corps Forces, South. “This force is the embodiment of the spirit in this region — where friends and neighbors partner together to help and mutually support one another, especially in a time of need.”
SPMAGTF-SC’s mission is to work to promote a stable and prosperous region in the Caribbean and Latin America through integration, shared values, and shared interests.