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U.S. military wraps up disaster relief exercise in Belize

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Posted: Wednesday, January 19, 2022. 10:08 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: Exercise Keel-Billed Toucan of Joint Task Force-Bravo concluded on Tuesday, January 18, validating the task force’s ability to mobilize personnel, assets and supplies safely and quickly utilizing strict COVID-19 protocols in order to assist regional partners in the event of a natural disaster.

U.S. military medical professionals with the task force’s Medical Detachment conducted a Global Health Engagement to provide primary care, preventative medicine, dental and pharmacy services in Jalacte and San Pedro Columbia, Toledo District. More than 775 local citizens were aided by JTF-Bravo, working side by side with the Ministry of Health and Wellness.

The exercise was designed to transport equipment and personnel as well as test the capability to self-deploy within the unit’s area of operations. Using organic assets to rapidly coordinate and conduct a simulated disaster response, the task force worked in partnership with the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance to quickly and effectively relieve suffering described in the scenario. There were also opportunities for subject matter expert exchanges between U.S. service members and the Belize Defense Force and Emergency Services.

“[The exercise] was a success for us, and it’s thanks to our Belizean partners that we are now better prepared to assist in the event of an emergency across Central America,” said Colonel Steve Gventer, JTF-Bravo commander. “We thank Belize for its gracious hospitality, and we look forward to our continued partnership and a joint KBT in the future.”

“Exercises such as Keel-Billed Toucan reflect the United States’ enduring commitment to our Belizean partners and the strong ties and friendship we share between our two countries,” added Layla Moses-Ones, Chargé d’ Affaires, U.S. Embassy Belize.

The exercise also provided opportunities for subject matter expert exchanges between U.S. service members, local forces, and the British Army, and allowed our aviation team and planners to familiarize with the area.

“Thank you to the wonderful people of Belize, you are always very gracious hosts and friends,” remarked Gventer. “We look forward to our continued partnership and a joint KBT in the future.”

As trusted partners to Central America, JTF-Bravo strives to be ready to support when called and exercises such as KBT prepare the team to respond and better coordinate with nations across the region if a disaster were to happen.

Approximately 150 members from units across JTF-Bravo received training during this exercise and successfully completed the first iteration of KBT.

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