SOUTHCOM Sponsors Multinational Emergency Response Training in Honduras

SOUTHCOM Sponsors Multinational Emergency Response Training in Honduras

By Dialogo
April 01, 2015




The United States Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) is coordinating and sponsoring the Humanitarian Allied Forces (FAHUM), a regionally-oriented humanitarian/disaster relief table-top exercise that will take place in Honduras in August and September.

The goal of the exercise, which SOUTHCOM has coordinated for more than a decade, is to "evaluate the mechanisms of national response and inter-institutional coordination in the event of a catastrophe," according to the Permanent Contingency Commission of Honduras (COPECO, for its Spanish acronym).

That coordination also spans across the region. Along with SOUTHCOM and Honduras, security forces from Belize, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Canada, and in-country representatives from the embassies of Japan, Switzerland, and Taiwan have been invited to participate in the training. Participating U.S. forces include the U.S. Transportation Command; U.S. Army South; U.S. Air Forces Southern; U.S. Marine Forces South; members from the U.S. Security Cooperation Office in Honduras; and Joint Task Force Bravo.

Evaluating humanitarian relief mechanisms


FAHUM's broad goal of emergency preparation is specified in three main objectives:


To improve the capacities of participating nations to exercise national, regional, and international relief mechanisms when responding to a major disaster in their region;

To provide Honduras the opportunity to demonstrate its plans, procedures, and techniques for providing humanitarian assistance by exercising its National Emergency Operation Center (NEOC) system; and

To provide regional partner nation security forces, NGOs, international groups, and private sector organizations the opportunity to demonstrate their ability to work collaboratively to synchronize their disaster relief efforts.


The exercise will also provide partner nations the opportunity to use the Disaster/All-hazard Warning, Analysis, and Risk Evalution (AWARE) tool to improve interoperability and the sharing of information on a regional basis, according to SOUTHCOM's Exercise Branch. The tool is an integrated hazard monitoring platform that provides situational awareness, decision support, and information exchange capabilities to disaster management decision makers throughout the world. It incorporates international best-practice methodologies and technologies for acquiring data; hazard modeling; risk and vulnerability assessment; mapping; visualization; and communications, all in one system. And its interoperable base platform is adaptable to support secure environments.

While tools like Disaster/AWARE facilitates regional data-sharing, exercises like FAHUM provide something just as valuable: an exchange of experiences. During the exercise, personnel from SOUTHCOM will share their own backgrounds responding to natural disasters with members of Honduras's National Risk Management System.

Exercise increases cooperation and coordination


Meanwhile, FAHUM's training drills will enable Armed Forces officials and civilian authorities to improve their capacity to respond to and plan for natural disasters.

“FAHUM is a command post exercise for the National Emergency Operations Centers (COEN) and the implementation of the multinational and multi-organizational Incident Command System, where Military and civilian organizations and entities carry out simulations and drills in the field in order to exchange information, acquire new experiences, and test protocols and procedures, such as the COEN operating manual and national emergency procedures and plans,” a COPECO statement explained.

Simulations and other kinds of drills will play crucial roles during the training. “A simulation is an exercise where the coordination is carried out at the strategic level, while a drill mobilizes operational forces to an indicated location in the field,” COPECO said.

The training exercise will not only help participants plan for and respond to natural disasters, it will also encourage greater coordination among Military and civilian authorities.

“This type of training and cooperation provided to Honduras by SOUTHCOM is important because it mainly allows the Armed Forces, the Police, the civil protection officials and institutions to coordinate their efforts and response capabilities,” explained Eugenio Sosa, a security analyst with the National Autonomous University of Honduras (UNAH).

Hurricanes are most common disaster in Honduras


The Central American region, particularly Honduras, is highly vulnerable to natural disasters. Hurricanes have been the most frequent natural disasters in Honduras, killing thousands of people and causing billions of dollars in economic damage. From 1950 to 2012, more than 30 hurricanes caused significant damage in the country. Many experts believe that climate change is increasing the odds that Honduras will be hit with more extreme weather, including stronger hurricanes.

The most devastating hurricanes have been Fifí and Mitch, according to XplorHonduras.com
. Hurricane Mitch struck the region in October 1998, causing widespread flooding and mudslides in mountainous regions. The hurricane, which was downgraded to a Category 1 storm on the Saffir-Simpson scale by the time it reached Honduras, affected each of the country's 18 departments, killing more than 5,600 people, causing the disappearance of more than 8,000 people, damaging or destroying 285,000 homes, and causing about $3.6 billion in economic damages.

"Hurricane Mitch caused the worst disaster in Latin America in the last 200 years," the United Nations report "Climate Change in Honduras" stated.

Following Hurricane Mitch, countries in Central America increased their level of cooperation in responding to hurricanes, Sosa said. Countries trained together with greater frequency and worked more closely together to plan for such events.

Joint training exercises, such as those coordinated by SOUTHCOM, are an important component of this improved coordination. In 2014, the FAHUM international emergency drill was held in El Salvador. Belize, Chile, Colombia, Panama, Canada, and SOUTHCOM participated in the training.



The United States Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) is coordinating and sponsoring the Humanitarian Allied Forces (FAHUM), a regionally-oriented humanitarian/disaster relief table-top exercise that will take place in Honduras in August and September.

The goal of the exercise, which SOUTHCOM has coordinated for more than a decade, is to "evaluate the mechanisms of national response and inter-institutional coordination in the event of a catastrophe," according to the Permanent Contingency Commission of Honduras (COPECO, for its Spanish acronym).

That coordination also spans across the region. Along with SOUTHCOM and Honduras, security forces from Belize, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Canada, and in-country representatives from the embassies of Japan, Switzerland, and Taiwan have been invited to participate in the training. Participating U.S. forces include the U.S. Transportation Command; U.S. Army South; U.S. Air Forces Southern; U.S. Marine Forces South; members from the U.S. Security Cooperation Office in Honduras; and Joint Task Force Bravo.

Evaluating humanitarian relief mechanisms


FAHUM's broad goal of emergency preparation is specified in three main objectives:


To improve the capacities of participating nations to exercise national, regional, and international relief mechanisms when responding to a major disaster in their region;

To provide Honduras the opportunity to demonstrate its plans, procedures, and techniques for providing humanitarian assistance by exercising its National Emergency Operation Center (NEOC) system; and

To provide regional partner nation security forces, NGOs, international groups, and private sector organizations the opportunity to demonstrate their ability to work collaboratively to synchronize their disaster relief efforts.


The exercise will also provide partner nations the opportunity to use the Disaster/All-hazard Warning, Analysis, and Risk Evalution (AWARE) tool to improve interoperability and the sharing of information on a regional basis, according to SOUTHCOM's Exercise Branch. The tool is an integrated hazard monitoring platform that provides situational awareness, decision support, and information exchange capabilities to disaster management decision makers throughout the world. It incorporates international best-practice methodologies and technologies for acquiring data; hazard modeling; risk and vulnerability assessment; mapping; visualization; and communications, all in one system. And its interoperable base platform is adaptable to support secure environments.

While tools like Disaster/AWARE facilitates regional data-sharing, exercises like FAHUM provide something just as valuable: an exchange of experiences. During the exercise, personnel from SOUTHCOM will share their own backgrounds responding to natural disasters with members of Honduras's National Risk Management System.

Exercise increases cooperation and coordination


Meanwhile, FAHUM's training drills will enable Armed Forces officials and civilian authorities to improve their capacity to respond to and plan for natural disasters.

“FAHUM is a command post exercise for the National Emergency Operations Centers (COEN) and the implementation of the multinational and multi-organizational Incident Command System, where Military and civilian organizations and entities carry out simulations and drills in the field in order to exchange information, acquire new experiences, and test protocols and procedures, such as the COEN operating manual and national emergency procedures and plans,” a COPECO statement explained.

Simulations and other kinds of drills will play crucial roles during the training. “A simulation is an exercise where the coordination is carried out at the strategic level, while a drill mobilizes operational forces to an indicated location in the field,” COPECO said.

The training exercise will not only help participants plan for and respond to natural disasters, it will also encourage greater coordination among Military and civilian authorities.

“This type of training and cooperation provided to Honduras by SOUTHCOM is important because it mainly allows the Armed Forces, the Police, the civil protection officials and institutions to coordinate their efforts and response capabilities,” explained Eugenio Sosa, a security analyst with the National Autonomous University of Honduras (UNAH).

Hurricanes are most common disaster in Honduras


The Central American region, particularly Honduras, is highly vulnerable to natural disasters. Hurricanes have been the most frequent natural disasters in Honduras, killing thousands of people and causing billions of dollars in economic damage. From 1950 to 2012, more than 30 hurricanes caused significant damage in the country. Many experts believe that climate change is increasing the odds that Honduras will be hit with more extreme weather, including stronger hurricanes.

The most devastating hurricanes have been Fifí and Mitch, according to XplorHonduras.com
. Hurricane Mitch struck the region in October 1998, causing widespread flooding and mudslides in mountainous regions. The hurricane, which was downgraded to a Category 1 storm on the Saffir-Simpson scale by the time it reached Honduras, affected each of the country's 18 departments, killing more than 5,600 people, causing the disappearance of more than 8,000 people, damaging or destroying 285,000 homes, and causing about $3.6 billion in economic damages.

"Hurricane Mitch caused the worst disaster in Latin America in the last 200 years," the United Nations report "Climate Change in Honduras" stated.

Following Hurricane Mitch, countries in Central America increased their level of cooperation in responding to hurricanes, Sosa said. Countries trained together with greater frequency and worked more closely together to plan for such events.

Joint training exercises, such as those coordinated by SOUTHCOM, are an important component of this improved coordination. In 2014, the FAHUM international emergency drill was held in El Salvador. Belize, Chile, Colombia, Panama, Canada, and SOUTHCOM participated in the training.
Well, I feel terrible about all that has happened in this country.
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