US Army, October 05, 2016 - SOTO CANO AIR BASE, Honduras -- A U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM)-directed team will begin deploying to Port-au-Prince, Haiti today on a mission to provide humanitarian and disaster relief assistance.
The advance team, comprised of a joint task force commander and a command and control element, will arrive first and will set up operations at Port-au-Prince international airport. The team will prepare for the arrival of additional personnel and equipment via helicopters and C-130 Hercules cargo aircraft.
Joint Task Force-Bravo (JTF-B) and Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force-Southern Command (SPMAGTF-SC) helicopters and crews that departed Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras, Tuesday arrived in Kingston, Jamaica today and will remain until the weather is safe for helicopter travel to Haiti. Upon arrival, they will provide heavy lift support to ongoing U.S. disaster relief assistance missions requested by the government of Haiti.
The mission is led by the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA).
The team of approximately 100 military personnel departed Soto Cano AB Tuesday and today aboard CH-53E Super Stallion, CH-47 Chinook, and UH-60L Black Hawk helicopters.
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.
SPMAGTF-SC deployed to Central America in June to serve as a rapid response force during the hurricane season. It was headquartered out of Soto Cano AB and was postured to rapidly deploy in support of a disaster relief mission in the region.
Historically, U.S. military capabilities are needed most in the critical early stages of a disaster relief operation, when fewer resources, capabilities and disaster-response experts are available to help victims and impacted communities. As those disaster-relief missions progress and more experienced experts arrive to aid longer-term recovery and reconstruction, U.S. military capabilities are no longer requested, and roles previously performed by military units are assumed by other, more experienced relief organizations.
Over the last several years, SOUTHCOM has provided disaster assistance to Haiti to help the Caribbean nation prepare for storms like Hurricane Matthew and other natural disasters, including the construction of emergency operations centers, disaster relief warehouses, fire stations and community centers that double as shelters. The command has also donated search and rescue boats, as well as transport vehicles to Haitian emergency response and civil protection agencies.
SOUTHCOM is one of the nation’s six geographically-focused unified commands with responsibility for U.S. military operations in the Caribbean, Central America and South America.