Personnel from Joint Task Force Bravo (JTF-Bravo), the U.S. Agency for International Development Bureau of Humanitarian Assistance (USAID/BHA), the Guatemalan National Coordination for Disaster Reduction (CONRED), and Guatemalan military representatives conducted a two-day humanitarian assistance and disaster relief tabletop exercise, Sentinel Watch, June 8-9.
Participants included logistics, aviation, operations, and civil-military operations experts from the Guatemalan military, working together with U.S. military personnel, under the direction of CONRED and BHA, to fine tune processes during a time of calm.
“It’s very important that we work together to understand each other’s capabilities in a time where we can address these regional challenges together, or even go back and review past actions to make them better,” said U.S. Army Colonel Steven Gventer, JTF-Bravo commander.
The exercise involved combined teams of experts working through a scenario based on tropical storm Agatha, which severely affected Guatemala in 2010. U.S. and Guatemalan counterparts integrated and discussed their standard operating procedures to learn more about how to operate together if a complex emergency or disaster were to happen and would necessitate international assistance.
The scenario included injects of different situations that would affect and complicate the scenario as well as a discussion of lessons learned from past emergencies and JTF-Bravo responses in the region.
After completing the exercise, teams are now more familiar with how each organization operates, where each would be staged depending on the emergency, how to communicate and who to coordinate with.
“We are very pleased to have JTF-Bravo here in Guatemala and we are aware that these activities help us evaluate how we can respond together,” said General (ret.) Oscar Cossío, executive secretary of CONRED. “It’s better to have a drop of sweat during training, than a drop of blood during combat, or in this case, during a disaster response.”
As U.S. Southern Command’s regional presence, and due to its strategic location at Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras, JTF-Bravo is committed to supporting partners when disasters happen, responding rapidly in support of USAID/BHA with unique capabilities and personnel to save lives.
“Exercises like these are very important to bring us together. I hope that through this exercise we’ve been able to build not only the relationship, but the understanding and the trust, to be able to execute in a time of need,” said Col. Gventer.