WHINSEC and Joint Task Force-Bravo worked together to teach a course on regional emergency response.
Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC) instructors partnered with representatives from Joint Task Force-Bravo and Honduran contingency organizations for an Interagency Crisis Action Planning course in Tegucigalpa, December 10-14, 2018. The subject matter exchange was held at the COPECO headquarters, a Honduran emergency response agency, with the intent of bringing different organizations together to learn about each other’s capabilities. Participants included the Honduran Fire Department, Red Cross, Humanitarian Rescue Unit, Armed Forces representatives, and 911 responders.
“The exchange was of great importance because we shared each other’s functions, we now know which areas we are supporting and what to do not only during a crisis but before, during and after, and how we can support each other in coordination with all participants,” said Honduran Navy Captain Heidy Baquedano, a participant in the course.
WHINSEC facilitated the exchange of ideas and best practices to better prepare for a potential joint response. It also promoted the importance of coordination and relationships to consolidate effective operations.
“What we hope to achieve is to have interoperability, standardization, and also transparency among processes,” said Edwin Roldan, director of WHINSEC’s Civil Military Studies Department. “The more we share information and the more we establish relationships the better. Instead of having different directions we can join efforts and join forces to have interoperability and shared knowledge.”
U.S. Army Sergeant 1st Class Raul Molina, the course director, emphasized that having these exchanges makes it easier for organizations to cooperate during a disaster and enhances their readiness, a key element of U.S. Southern Command’s lines of efforts. He also highlighted how JTF-Bravo plays an important role in regional emergency response by cross training with firefighters from all across Central American during events such as Exercise CENTAM SMOKE. The exercise focuses on interoperability and partnership by bringing different units together to work as a unified team.
“I spoke to the JTF-Bravo firefighters and they mentioned they train with firefighters in Honduras so that they can work with them, and how beneficial it is for them and for us. You’re building capacity, but you’re also building or reinforcing a partnership that already exists, so I think the benefit overall is establishing those relationships that are going to have long term benefits for everyone,” said Sgt. Molina.
The course was the first of its type WHINSEC conducted in Honduras. The goal is to enhance it and involve senior leadership to share ideas and create a discussion on how to improve current procedures, policies, and programs as well as to develop the exchange into a regional multinational exercise.
“I think that the way it could evolve could be to involve more partner nations and neighboring countries; that would be ideal!” concluded Sgt. Molina. “If we can make it not just interagency but multinational, I think would be great, the same way that CENTAM SMOKE involves multinational firefighters and builds their capacity and capabilities”.