US Army, November 09, 2020 - SOTO CANO AIR BASE, HONDURAS by Capt Rachel Salpietra - Joint Task Force-Bravo continues conducting life-saving efforts in Central America in the wake of Hurricane Eta and has now deployed military members to assist the people of Guatemala.
Guatemala joins Honduras and Panama in declaring a national emergency and requesting immediate life-saving assistance from the U.S. government. JTF-Bravo’s proximity, training and unique capabilities make them the obvious choice for countries in the region, when there is a crisis of this kind.
Joint Task Force-Bravo sent approximately 14 military personnel, an HH-60 Black Hawk and a CH-47 Chinook to assist the government of Guatemala with aerial rescue operations of impacted communities, Nov.7, 2020.
Elements of JTF-B, including 69 military personnel and two Black Hawks have already staged in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, to coordinate support efforts with the Honduran response force. JTF-B is also supporting out of Soto Cano Air Base with an additional two Blackhawks and a Chinook.
Another 42 JTF-Bravo personnel, a Black Hawk and two Chinooks arrived at David, Panama, at the Emergency Operations Center at El Sistema Nacional de Protección Civil Headquarters where Army Civil Affairs Soldiers and Navy Special Boat Team Sailors coordinated with local emergency response teams to provide the necessary life-saving supplies and rescue operations.
As of this morning, JTF-Bravo has rescued 56 citizens throughout Honduras and Panama and transported 19 Panamanian rescue workers to communities in need that were isolated due to the disaster.
All elements of U.S. Southern Command are focused on this mission and have been in constant contact with Adm. Craig Faller, USSOUTHOM commander. During a mission update brief, ADM Faller reminded the audience of the importance of this mission.
“Our immediate – number one priority is to save lives,” said Faller. “These deployments highlight the importance of our strategic location at Soto Cano, which allows us to rapidly mobilize and respond to a crisis like this.”
Department of Defense commanders are authorized to direct assigned forces at or near the immediate scene of a foreign disaster to take prompt action to save human lives.
The mission of Joint Task Force-Bravo includes being prepared to support disaster relief operations in Central America, South America and the Caribbean, when directed by SOUTHCOM.