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US Army is conducting a Disaster Response Exercise out of Ladyville

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Posted: Friday, January 7, 2022. 10:55 am CST.

Photo Credit: U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. Joshua E. Powell

By Rubén Morales Iglesias: If you see helicopters flying over Ladyville, don’t be surprised; the US Army is conducting a two-week Disaster Response Exercise from January 7 to 21.

“The United States Southern Command (U.S. SOUTHCOM) Joint Task Force-Bravo (JTF-Bravo), a unit based in Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras, will conduct the ‘Keel-Billed Toucan’ (KBT) humanitarian and disaster relief exercise near Ladyville, Belize from January 7 – 21,” said a statement by the United States Embassy.

“Through this JTF-Bravo disaster response exercise, the United States is demonstrating its commitment to the safety and security of the Belizean people. It is a testament to our strong security ties, as well as the longstanding friendship between our two countries and our commitment to assist Belize in disaster preparation and response,” emphasized Chargé d’Affaires, a.i. Leyla Moses.

Approximately 150 US service members have been deployed from the Soto Cano Air Base to Ladyville.

The US Embassy said the “Keel-Billed Toucan” mission should ensure essential training for maximum crisis preparedness and should also serve to enhance the already strong US-Belizean bilateral ties.

“Joint Task Force-Bravo is uniquely positioned and highly capable of providing quick, effective assistance to local communities throughout the region during times of need,” said JTF-Bravo Commander Colonel Steven Gventer, who is leading the military exercise.

“Exercises like ‘Keel-Billed Toucan’ enable the U.S. government to drill for a real-life event so that we may sharpen necessary skills to assist our friends in Belize.”

The US Southern Command said in a statement that as part of its “enduring promise to its regional partners, JTF-Bravo continues to work with our U.S. government teammates, and allies and partners in the region, to provide rapid support and services, when requested.”

The US JTF-Bravo conducts these humanitarian assistance and disaster relief training missions on a routine basis. The Embassy said JTF-Bravo is equipped with unique airlift capabilities that allow rapid response in saving lives and mitigating suffering in the immediate aftermath of natural disasters.

The US Embassy also said that during the training exercise, airlift training will include the use of U.S. Army helicopters to support flight operations. So, Ladyville residents should expect to see helicopters flying over the area from January 7 to 21.

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