SOUTHCOM and Honduran Marines Train Together
By Dialogo October 16, 2015
Honduran Marines and their counterparts with the United States Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) are training together in the most effective methods to fight organized crime groups and protect natural resources – lessons the Honduran Marines will later teach their fellow service members.
“The goal of these training courses is to educate and prepare the naval squadrons in combating drug trafficking using new strategies, striking precise blows against organized crime, aiding the population, and protecting marine resources,” said Navy Captain Juan Antonio De Jesús Rivera, commanding officer of the Trujillo Colón Base in Puerto Castilla, in an interview with Diálogo
U.S. Marine Captain Juan Díaz, who is in charge of the training program, elaborated: “The mission is to build an institution of Naval training to establish a pipeline for officers, warrant officers, and enlisted Troops. The requirements for the curriculum were approved in Tegucigalpa and based on the equivalent training used by the Military in the U.S."
“The larger objective is to construct a lasting relationship between SOUTHCOM and the Honduran service members they work with daily to build their capacity and establish a partnership based on shared values, challenges, and responsibilities.”
Building a lasting relationship
To help achieve that goal, a team of 10 U.S. Marines under Captain Díaz's command trained with the Honduran service members from the Special-Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force-Southern Command. U.S. service members have also created a training plan for the Honduran Navy, which is based on the U.S. Marine Corps’ Basic Officer School and the U.S. Marine Corps' Infantry School. That process is similar to the one that U.S. Marines incorporated into training with Colombia’s Marine Corps.
“FNH [the Spanish acronym for the Honduran Navy] believes it is important that they receive training identical to what U.S. Marines receive: training, techniques, and strategies taught worldwide in response to the changes represented by new threats, primarily drug trafficking,” Captain De Jesús explained. “The [Honduran] service members were selected from the country’s different naval bases and are receiving training on the theory and practice of personal defense, team management, diving, underwater operations, martial arts, and marksmanship.”
Cooperation between Honduras and the U.S. extends beyond the Marine training initiative, as SOUTHCOM has participated in several training exercises with the FNH in May and July in Puerto Castilla. There, 80 Honduran Marines trained in night operations, maritime patrols, immersion, combat survival skills, small- and large-caliber weapons management, river operations, saving lives in combat, outboard motors, and ship maneuvers. The training also included a river course focused on piloting a ship to intercept vessels suspected of transporting drugs.
In another joint training operation, the U.S. vessel USNS Spearhead arrived at Puerto Castilla on Sept. 2 to participate in five weeks of training with the Honduran Marine Corps First Battalion, Spanish online daily La Información
reported. There, they conducted joint training exercises in maritime, ground, and air operation strategies to halt organized crime activities.
“The support provided to us by the United States allows us to have qualified personnel with broad experience who can transmit this learning to our soldiers and maintain control over Honduras’ coasts and maritime borders,” Captain De Jesús said.