Firefighters with the 612th Air Base Squadron, a unit under the U.S. Air Forces Southern/12th Air Force, the air force component of U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), hosted a new iteration of exercise CENTAM SMOKE, a biannual training exercise to enhance firefighting and rescue capabilities, August 8-12 at Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras.
The training included participation from approximately 33 firefighters and rescue personnel from Belize, Honduras, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Panama, and for the first time ever, Colombia. The 612th Air Base Squadron is one of Joint Task Force Bravo’s major supporting commands and conducts operations ranging from air traffic control to airfield management and base operations.
CENTAM SMOKE, which stands for Central America Sharing Mutual Operational Knowledge and Experience, allows U.S. and partner nation firefighters to come together and train as a team for five days, and prepare in firefighting techniques and best practices, as well as preparation for natural and manmade disasters in the region.
The five-day event organized by the 612th’s Fire Emergency Services involved firefighting techniques and tactics, rope rescue, aircraft and structural fires, motor vehicle extrications, as well as friendly competitions such as the Fire Fighter Challenge Course, which test physical endurance and their individual and collective skills to move equipment and rescue victims rapidly and safely.
This multinational event strengthens partnerships and build trust by integrating U.S. military personnel with local and regional partners, ensuring efficient interoperability during humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations.
As a longstanding partner to the region, SOUTHCOM has been conducting multinational exercises across the region for over 40 years, strengthening regional capacities and readiness with partners.