The Honduran Air Force’s Coronel José Enrique Soto Cano Air Base in Comayagua celebrated 34 years of service in September. Its main mission is to train cadets from the Military Aviation Academy. Since February 2022, Honduran Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Sidia Jackeline Lara serves as commander of the base.
“It’s a combat and pilot training unit. It’s made up of 485 members including officers and noncommissioned officers, auxiliary personnel, and air security police,” Lt. Col. Lara told the press. “[We provide] support to the Honduran Air Force in airspace protection, close air support, surveillance, reconnaissance, training, and support in citizen security, for example with medical brigades.”
The base is also home to U.S. Southern Command’s Joint Task Force Bravo (JTF-Bravo), which works to strengthen cooperation with Honduras and other Central American countries in support of regional security, stability, and prosperity.
“One of the greatest legacies here at Soto Cano Air Base is that it allows JTF-Bravo to build trust by developing new and existing partnerships between partner nations, local communities, and organizations,” U.S. Air Force Captain Michael Hardy, JTF-Bravo’s director of Public Affairs, told Diálogo on October 22. “Each new partnership or engagement creates new opportunities for the future.”
This trust is manifested with the execution of global health engagements in the Central American region, interinstitutional seminars where JTF-Bravo joins professionals from different areas of the health sector from various institutions, to assist communities with scarce resources or far from public health services.
“Medical engagements such as these are vital to our mission at JTF-Bravo by creating working partnerships in Central America, fostering community progress, and providing medical care to increase the quality of life and health of the community,” Capt. Hardy said.
As part of SOUTHCOM’s longstanding partnership with Honduras, JTF-Bravo organized a global health engagement in late September in the department of Choluteca, where more than 30 JTF-Bravo medical professionals joined their counterparts from Hospital General del Sur, Ciudad Mujer, the Honduran Ministry of Health, and the Honduran Red Cross for a three-day mission to benefit the population.
Doctors and health professionals offered preventive and dental consultations, pediatric care, women’s health, vaccinations against COVID-19, medicines, and microbiology exams. The health engagement helped more than 800 people and completed 12 surgeries, JTF-Bravo said via Facebook on October 5.
“Through these global health engagements, U.S. military medical personnel are able to promote the U.S. Department of Defense’s Women, Peace, and Security initiative by partnering with gender-focused programs such as Ciudad Mujer,” JFT-Bravo added. Ciudad Mujer is a government of Honduras program created to contribute to and improve the living conditions of Honduran women.
On the field
Bringing humanitarian aid is often complicated, as the neediest communities are located in areas difficult to access. Heavy rains and storms can make roads unsafe for travel, forcing medical brigades to identify another way to reach people in need.
“One of the challenges we face here at Soto Cano Air Force Base is changing environmental conditions,” Capt. Hardy said. “This can range from simple rainstorms to large-scale natural disasters that affect our operations.”
“However, the joint effort to adapt to the situation at the time allows us to work with our partners and continue to serve those in need,” Capt. Hardy concluded. “That is why the support of our local partnerships is critical to the success of our mission, and the identification of our partners’ needs.”