As the U.S. Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort sails to Latin America and the Caribbean as part of Continuing Promise 2022, mission commander, U.S. Navy Captain Bryan Carmichael, commodore of Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) Four, makes sure that they accomplish the two-month humanitarian assistance, readiness building, and goodwill mission to help people in need in five partner nations ofthe Caribbean, Central and South America.
After successfully ending the first mission stop in Guatemala, conducting direct medical and dental care, expeditionary veterinary care, disaster relief, subject matter expert exchanges, and workshops on Women, Peace, and Security, a group of Continuing Promise personnel debarked to travel to Puerto Cortes, Honduras, to conduct scheduled programs, while the USNS Comfort avoided the path of Tropical Storm Lisa, delaying its port visit until November 3. From there it will sail to Colombia, Dominican Republic, and Haiti.
Diálogo had the opportunity to speak with Capt. Carmichael about the importance of the mission and partnership with the Americas.
Diálogo: What are your main objectives in this 12th iteration of Continuing Promise?
U.S. Navy Captain Bryan Carmichael, commodore of Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) Four, and commander of Continuing Promise 2022: Continuing Promise 2022 is a large part of U.S. Southern Command’s Enduring Promise initiative and reflects the U.S. enduring promise of friendship, partnership, and solidarity with the Americas. The main objectives for this 12th iteration of Continuing Promise are strengthening maritime partnerships, improving interoperability of the participating forces, and maintaining readiness with our partners to respond to events across the range of military operations. Continuing Promise 2022 will develop a team of partners who are more resilient and capable of confronting shared challenges and threats.
Diálogo: What is the process to determine which countries will receive support during the Continuing Promise mission?
Capt. Carmichael: In consultation with the respective U.S. embassies and U.S. mission planners, host nation governments determined the locations where medical teams will provide medical care. The selected cities are port cities where the ship can effectively conduct medical assistance operations ashore and on boardand are accessible to patient populations identified by host nation health officials.
Diálogo: Why is it important for the United States to make the USNS Comfort available for humanitarian missions in support of partner nations?
Capt. Carmichael: It’s important for the United States to make the Comfort available for humanitarian missions because we are committed to the people of the Caribbean and Central and South America. We are neighbors. USNS Comfort has a robust set of capabilities that enables it to provide support to otherwise overwhelmed healthcare systems.
Diálogo: What kind of exchanges is carried out between crew members and their counterparts in the countries visited?
Capt. Carmichael: Continuing Promise 2022 will feature subject matter expert exchanges on various medical and humanitarian assistance/disaster relief topics, including preventative medicine, biomedical technical topics, and veterinarian events. Our crew members will work side-by-side with our host nation counterparts to ensure we expand capacity and capability while learning from each other.
Diálogo: What is the importance of having Latin American military personnel as part of the crew?
Capt. Carmichael: Having Latin American military personnel as a part of the crew onboard is essential. They represent the countries we are partners with and working with them is how we continue to foster our relationships with their respective countries. I believe so strongly in this that I appointed Honduran Navy Captain Juan Antonio de Jesús Rivera as my deputy commander. He brought invaluable experience and knowledge of the people and places to my command group.
Diálogo: What are the determining factors for mission success?
Capt. Carmichael: Mission success is providing high-quality care to people, fostering goodwill, and building the capacity and capabilities of our partner nations in the region.
Diálogo: Tell us about the ship’s motto “United we sail.” What does it mean?
Capt. Carmichael: We are truly sailing as a united team. We have personnel from across the Department of Defense, federal agencies, non-federal entities, and partner nations all working together for a common goal.