Joint Task Force Bravo (JTF-Bravo), in coordination with Panama’s National Civil Protection System (SINAPROC) and representatives of Panama’s security and emergency services, conducted a joint exercise to improve coordination in disaster response, July 13–14.
“For us and for all the liaison institutions present, this is extremely important. This is not the first time we have conducted a joint coordination exercise with the Task Force,”Carlos Rumbo, general director of SINAPROC, said.
Sentinel Watch is a tabletop exercise based on a historical event with unexpected changes added to the scenario to spark a conversation and potential responses by participants, including the United States Agency for International Development’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (USAID/BHA).
The exercise is aimed at government organizations, military and civilian first responders, and field experts who grouped by specialties and then later by organizations, to discuss best practices and lessons learned based on the scenario presented. JTF-Bravo personnel included firefighters, operations, planners, civil affairs representatives, public affairs, medics, and engineers.
“It’s important that we have these exercises during non-crisis times to improve our processes, communications, and relationships, because during an emergency we can be quicker and stronger in our actions to save lives. We know that Panama is very strong in its capabilities, and we are excited to work with you and also to learn from your experiences,” U.S. Army Major Robert Mixon, director of civil affairs for JTF-Bravo, said during his opening remarks.
So far this year, this exercise has been conducted in Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, and now Panama to increase coordination capabilities during a complex emergency in which JTF-Bravo assistance would be needed, operating under the direction of U.S. Southern Command and USAID/BHA.
“[Hurricanes] Eta and Iota left us a lesson; that the emergency agencies not only have to be prepared, but we must also have that communication with partner nations and [JTF-Bravo], which is the organization based out of Honduras that supports all nations of Central America and the Caribbean,” Rumbo said.