Posts Tagged ‘Latin America’

US Southern Command Partnership Programs Strengthen Region

December 8, 2008
USS Kearsarge

USS Kearsarge

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For the past two years at U.S. Southern Command our approach to security cooperation with the 45 nations and territories of Latin America and the Caribbean has been simple — “real and vibrant partnership for the Americas,” writes SOUTHCOM commander Admiral James Stavridis in the Miami Herald.

We try to do this while supporting and complementing the activities conducted by the State Department, Agency for International Development, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Coast Guard and others. So looking back over the past two years, is there real and vibrant partnership in the Americas?

I’ll start with an ongoing example of cooperation and commitment that we call Continuing Promise 2008 — a training and civic assistance mission that partners regional and U.S. military personnel with other U.S. government agencies, partner-nation government agencies and nongovernmental organizations, like Project Hope and Operation Smile to train and contribute to our hemisphere.

Read Adm. Stavridis’ entire article

Kearsarge Departs Haiti, Resumes Continuing Promise 2008

September 28, 2008
USS Kearsarge

USS Kearsarge

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USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) departed Haiti Sept. 26 after completing a 19-day disaster relief mission in the storm-ravaged Caribbean nation.

The mission included robust helicopter and sealift support to U.S. relief efforts led by the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA).

During its support to USAID-led relief efforts in Haiti, Marine and Navy helicopters embarked aboard Kearsarge flew more than 100 sorties and the landing craft transported more than 30 loads of supplies. These operations led to the timely delivery of more than 3.3 million lbs. of food, water, and other relief supplies to Haitian communities devastated in recent weeks by several tropical storms and Hurricane Ike.

A team of medical personnel conducted health assessments at 16 villages thorughout the affected area and provided basic medical care to more than 1,000 Haitian citizens. Doctors from the ship performed health examinations, looking for diseases inherent to natural disasters, and conducted preventive services, such as environmental assessments.

Prior to her departure, Kearsarge medical personnel delivered their assessments to the various agencies assisting here to ensure a seamless transition of the ship’s aid distribution activities to other relief organizations in Haiti.

“All of the information we gathered was in areas where the government and other agencies assisting with the relief effort here had not been to before,” said Medical Contingent Commander, Cmdr. Dave Damstra. “We were able to give them vital information they did not have, and it should be a great benefit in assisting with the recovery.”

In response to a formal request for engineering assistance, U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force engineers embarked aboard Kearsarge assisted Haitian officials with assessing the condition of roads and bridges damaged by the storms.

“Engineers have mainly been doing bridge assessments; looking at bridges that have failed and determining most likely cause of failure as well as recommended expedient and long term means of repairing them,” said Air Force 1st Lieutenant Lindsey Maddox. “Also, we’ve done basic road assessments and in a couple of locations assessed the local populace’s access to water, electricity, and supply routes.”

The assessments conducted by Kearsarge engineers were turned over to Haitian officials and other agencies supporting or overseeing reconstruction efforts that will use the assessments as they work to restore damaged critical infrastructure to pre-disaster conditions.

Kearsarge engineers also assisted residents of Bainet by replacing damaged pipes vital to the delivery of fresh water in the southern city.

Kearsarge’s crew partnered with non-governmental organizations (NGO), United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti, Haitian government officials, and other agencies assisting in the disaster relief efforts who needed access to sites that we inaccessible by road.

“The ship and all [her] embarked elements were able to quickly respond and support USAID disaster relief efforts here,” said Capt. Fernandez “Frank” Ponds, commander of U.S. military relief operations in Haiti. “Our timely assistance to the people of Haiti reflects our nation’s and Fourth Fleet’s compassion for the many individuals and families impacted by these storms and its commitment to helping nations in times of crisis.”

According to USAID, as of Sept. 22, the U.S. has contributed more than $30 million in disaster assistance to the people of Haiti during the 2008 hurricane season.

“I am proud of the Kearsarge crew and all of the embarked units,” said Kearsarge Commanding Officer, Capt. Walt Towns. “All did not hesitate to answer the call when one of our neighbors needed assistance.”

“Through close coordination and cooperation with the numerous government and non-government organizations participating in this important mission, we’ve been able to obtain an equivalent, if not superior, lift capability to continue distributing aid to those in need,” explained Ponds. “Though our mission here has ended, the people of Haiti remain in our thoughts and prayers. It is our hope that we were able to provide some measure of comfort during this crisis.”

Kearsarge will remain in the Caribbean as part of Continuing Promise 2008, a humanitarian assistance mission that began with visits to Puerta Cabezas, Nicaragua, and Santa Marta, Colombia, where medical teams provided health-care services and engineers completed various construction and infrastructure repair projects.

Kearsarge will remain in the region through November and will continue her humanitarian assistance mission during scheduled visits to the Dominican Republic, Guyana, and Trinidad and Tobago.

Continuing Promise 2008 is a collaborative effort that includes the participation of U.S. military personnel, military medical personnel from Brazil, Canada, France, and the Netherlands, medical volunteers from the U.S. Public Health Service, and volunteers from NGOs, such as Operation Smile, Project Hope, and International Aid.

Western Hemisphere Nations Gather to Discuss Regional Security

September 3, 2008
Naval Calendar 2009

Naval Calendar 2009

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Delegations from 34 countries in the Western Hemisphere will descend on Banff, in Canada’s Alberta province, during the first week of September to build partnerships and solidify practical cooperation in areas ranging from natural disaster response to peacekeeping support.

Canada will host around 650 delegates for the VIII Conference of Defense Ministers of the Americas (CDMA) September 2-6. The conference, held every two years, is organized this year on the theme of “Hemispheric, Regional and Sub-regional Defense and Security Enhancement: Confidence-Building through Cooperation and Collaboration.”

Canadian Defense Minister Peter Gordon MacKay says his country hopes to provide an atmosphere that will encourage the kind of dialogue “which has strengthened defense and security relations in the hemisphere.” The gathering sets out to advance regional security cooperation, increase civilian defense expertise, promote civil-military relations and reinforce civilian-led militaries.

Read more about the VIII Conference of Defense Ministers of the Americas

Partnership of the Americas Underway Again

August 10, 2008

The guided-missile frigate USS Kauffman (FFG 59), the guided-missile destroyer USS Farragut (DDG 99) and Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 40 departed from Mayport, Fla., July 29 to begin the second half of their deployment in support of Partnership of the Americas (POA) 2008.

Kauffman’s Commanding Officer, Cmdr. Robert Cepak, said POA 2008 events are designed to strengthen regional partnerships and increase interoperability between the U.S. and partner navies.

“Partnership of the Americas addresses aspects of multinational operations that are vital for us to successfully complete our mission in a joint environment,” said Cepak. “Working and communicating with our partner nations builds the relationships that would be necessary in the event of a crisis requiring a multinational effort.”

Kauffman Operations Officer, Lt. James Wright, said that silent division tactic (DIVTAC) exercises, the first exercise completed during this phase of POA 2008, are important tactical maneuvering exercises.

“In close proximity formation steaming, precise control and immediate response are essential to safe navigation,” said Wright. “DIVTACs allow us to practice ship’s close order seamanship drill.”

Wright also added that the exercises conducted aboard Kauffman and Farragut were more difficult than normal DIVTACs because they were conducted without the use of any voice communication.

The DIVTACs marked the first in a series of exercises and theater security cooperation visits which will take place throughout the Caribbean during the second half of POA 2008. The first half of POA 2008, completed between April 7 and July 14, included TSC events in St. Lucia, Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, and Peru, two multinational UNITAS Atlantic and UNITAS Pacific and two bilateral anti-submarine warfare exercises, EJAS Norte with Chile and Silent Forces Exercise 2008 with Peru, and passing exercises with Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, and Ecuador.

Kauffman and Farragut are assigned to DESRON 40 in support of POA 2008 operations which are being held from April to October throughout South America, Central America, and the Caribbean. POA 2008 is a U.S. Southern Command sponsored program, implemented by U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command (NAVSO)/U.S. 4th Fleet, that emphasizes interoperability and cooperation between U.S. and partner nation’s maritime forces through a variety of exercises and events.

U.S. 4th Fleet was re-established in July 2008 to more effectively employ naval forces to build confidence and trust through collective maritime security efforts that focus on mutual interests.

Ecuador says US troops must leave Manta air base

August 3, 2008

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The U.S. military must stop using its only outpost in South America for anti-drug flights when Washington’s 10-year lease on the base in Ecuador expires in 2009, the Foreign Ministry said Tuesday.

Leftist President Rafael Correa has repeatedly said that Ecuador would not renew the agreement to use the Manta air base, but Tuesday’s Foreign Ministry statement said the South American nation has now formally notified the U.S. Embassy of the decision.

Some 300 U.S. soldiers are stationed at the Pacific base and flights from Manta are responsible for about 60 percent of U.S. drug interdiction in the eastern Pacific.

Read the entire article at the IHT

UNITAS Exercise Begins in Peru

June 26, 2008

UNITAS 49-08, an annual multinational exercise conducted to enhance interoperability and mutual cooperation between navies, began off the coast of Callao, June 21.

The multinational exercise brings together nations with common interests in the Americas, and includes Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, and the United States. Mexico participated in this year’s Atlantic phase of UNITAS as an observer.

UNITAS, now in its 49th consecutive year, strengthens relationships between partner nations through at-sea operations under numerous maritime scenarios.

Capt. Rodelio Laco, Destroyer Squadron 40 commodore, explained that this type of exercise increases proficiency and interoperability and builds trust between partner nations.

“The at-sea portion of this exercise will be one of the most challenging to date,” said Laco. “There is just no substitute for the training we get by working together at sea with our allied and partner nations’ navies. We get better at this every year, and every year the governments, militaries, and citizens of each of these countries comes to count on one another more and more. The direct result of all of this work and training is a more trusting international environment and the ability to accomplish together our common goals.”

Staff elements from U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command, Destroyer Squadron 40, USS Forrest Sherman (DDG 98), USS Farragut (DDG 99), USS Kauffman (FFG 59), United States Coast Guard International Training Division and personnel from the U.S. Marine Corps participated in this year’s UNITAS Pacific Phase.

UNITAS provides unique training opportunities at sea in a challenging and uncertain environment. The exercise incorporates event-driven scenarios to provide the maximum opportunity to improve a better working environment between navies.

According to Rear Adm. Raul Vasquez, Commander Surface Force of the Peruvian Navy, in the last six years UNITAS has changed and incorporated new ways of training in order to best challenge 21st century threats.

The exercise leaders airm to train forces from participating nations in maritime operations such as electronic warfare, anti-air warfare and air defense, anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare and maritime interdiction operations.

“One of the most important objectives during UNITAS is regional cooperation,” said Vasquez. “This exercise allows interoperability of our units. In the event of an actual mission, we can be ready to succeed in any challenge that we may encounter.”

UNITAS 49-08 is part of Partnership of Americas, an ongoing engagement operation sponsored by U.S. Southern Command. It is carried out under the operational control of the Mayport, Fla.-based U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command. The commander of Destroyer Squadron 40, Capt. Rodelio Laco, leads the deployment as commander, Task Group 40.0.

Omar A. Dominquez (NNS)