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#453075 - 12/08/12 02:01 PM US,Belizean governments prepare for major exercise
Marty Offline

U.S. embassy and military personnel conducted final site surveys in the Central American country of Belize last week for a major exercise that will test U.S. military members' ability to deploy while building partnerships with host-nation medical and civil engineering experts.

The exercise, called New Horizons, is an annual civil engineering and medical event overseen by U.S. Southern Command, and planned and executed by its air arm, Air Forces Southern. This year's exercise is slated to begin in April and will entail several construction projects to add new classrooms and buildings to existing schools with manpower provided by both U.S. and Belizean military engineers. In addition, combined U.S. and Belizean medical teams will conduct multiple medical events to provide medical, dental, surgical and veterinary services for rural Belizeans.

Although the exercise won't begin until the spring, preparations have been going on for months.

"Our first survey took place in June and the things we're finalizing during this trip include talking with potential contractors for pre-exercise site work, materials and solidifying timelines for construction and medical projects," said Capt. Richard Hallon, one of the lead planners for the exercise. "The work we're doing now will set us up for success during the exercise itself."

New Horizons dates back to the 1980s and is conducted in a Central American, South American or Caribbean partner-nation at the government's request. Once the location is determined, the host-nation government assembles and prioritizes a list of proposed medical and construction projects, which is balanced against the exercise's training objectives to ensure that participants get the maximum training benefit. From there, planning for the deployment and all of the things that go with it begins.

"This type of training is something we can't get at home because of the details and logistics it takes to complete an out-of-country deployment," said Capt. Donnie Horn, the lead civil engineering planner on the survey team. "We're not only talking about moving the people that will do the work. We've got to pack and prep the right equipment and materials at home-station, work with U.S. Transportation Command to have those items shipped from the U.S. to the exercise location, conduct the exercise itself and then redeploy home. This really takes us through the deployment process from A-to-Z."

The other key benefit U.S. service members receive from New Horizons is the opportunity to learn from and build partnerships with the exercise participants from the host-nation's government and military forces, added Horn.

Over the past 20 years, U.S. Southern Command has regularly partnered with the Belize Defence Force as well as the Ministries of Health and Education to conduct combined exercises that make both sides more prepared to respond to humanitarian relief scenarios.

"Every team out there needs to practice how things will go when you need to answer the call to a real-world situation," added Hallon. "New Horizons gives us the opportunity to exercise our ability to deploy, operate, and re-deploy while giving us the added benefit of working with and learning from our international partners. The fact that the end result of the exercise provides a humanitarian benefit just adds to the value of this opportunity."

Last year's iteration of New Horizons provided humanitarian and civic assistance through six projects in the Chincha, Pisco, and Independencia regions of Peru hit hard by a devastating earthquake in 2007. Projects included the construction of a multi-complex community center and clinic, as well as free medical care to an estimated more than 22,500 people.

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#458140 - 02/16/13 02:20 PM Re: US,Belizean governments prepare for major exercise [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Equipment scheduled to arrive for joint US-Belizean exercise

Twelfth Air Force (Air Forces Southern), in conjunction with the U.S. Embassy and the government and defense forces of Belize, will conduct an event called New Horizons in the spring. The exercise is an annual event conducted to train military civil engineers and medical professionals to deploy and conduct joint operations.

Construction equipment and materials for a joint U.S. - Belizean exercise is scheduled to begin arriving into ports in Belize in the spring for New Horizons 2013, a major event that will test U.S. military members' ability to deploy while building partnerships with host-nation medical and civil engineering experts.

The exercise itself, overseen by U.S. Southern Command and planned by Air Forces Southern, is slated to last approximately 90 days with several construction projects to add new classrooms and buildings to existing schools with manpower provided by both U.S. and Belizean military engineers.

In addition, combined U.S. and Belizean medical teams will conduct multiple medical events to provide medical services to Belizeans.

Preparations have been going on for months to kickoff construction and medical events in the spring, according to planners. The construction equipment and materials scheduled to arrive will be received, stored and secured by the Belize Defense Force who will also be participating in the exercise.

"Deploying the equipment and supplies that exercise participants need is a major part of the New Horizons," said Capt. Richard Hallon, one the exercise's staff planners. "We've got to pack and prep the right equipment and materials in the U.S., work with U.S. Transportation Command to have those items shipped to the partner-nation participating in the exercise, and coordinate for the storage and security of those supplies until the exercise participants arrive."

New Horizons dates back to the 1980s and is conducted in a Central American, South American or Caribbean partner-nation at the government's request. Once the location is determined, the host-nation government assembles and prioritizes a list of proposed medical and construction projects, which is balanced against the exercise's training objectives to ensure that participants get the maximum training benefit. From there, planning for the deployment and all of the things that go with it begins.

"New Horizons provides U.S. service members with training that they can't get at home," added Mr. Chris Donovan, the lead exercise planner for his sixth New Horizons. "This process is all about being able to plan and carry out a deployment from start to finish. There are some experiences that simply can't be gained by talking through the process. This exercise provides our service members with an opportunity to gain experience that enables them to be ready to answer the call when and where needed for a real world humanitarian need or crisis-type situation."

The other key benefit U.S. service members receive from New Horizons, is the opportunity to learn from and build partnerships with the exercise participants from the host-nation's government and military forces, he added.

Over the past 20 years, U.S. Southern Command has regularly partnered with the Belize Defense Force as well as the Ministries of Health and Education to conduct combined exercises that make both sides more prepared to respond to humanitarian relief scenarios.

Last year's iteration of New Horizons provided humanitarian and civic assistance through six projects in the Chincha, Pisco, and Independencia regions of Peru hit hard by a devastating earthquake in 2007. Projects included the construction of a multi-complex community center and clinic, as well as free medical care to an estimated more than 22,500 people.

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#460261 - 03/15/13 01:33 PM Re: US,Belizean governments prepare for major exercise [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

US Embassy Takes Journalists On Tour of Southern Command

On Wednesday four Belizean television journalists toured the United States Southern Command headquarters in Miami Florida.  The tour was part of an invitation that the US Embassy extended to the reporters in order to better understand the operations and exercises that the US South Command is responsible for.  Love News' Marion Ali is part of the group and spoke with Colonel Gregg Julian.  As he revealed in the conversation, economic constraints leave the facility with no choice but to quote "scale back on some of the operations" unquote. 

JULIAN

“Yes, Southern Command is a geographic command that is responsible for military engagement in the Central, South American and Caribbean Region and our main objectives are to develop partnerships with the countries in this area and improve regional security. We all have combined security interest and in particular things like transnational organized crime that affects all of us and because we have limited resources, we can combine our resources and have greater effect. “

MARION ALI

We got to understand that the budget will be scaled back for the next fiscal year could you explain to us what this means for a country like Belize.”

JULIAN

“Well across the board the international financial situation is very difficult right now and so also all of us experiencing reductions in our resources; financial in particular, so it’s more important for all of us to work together to combine our resources to have a greater effect on improving regional security and countering  organized crime.”

Following the tour, the team of journalist traveled 186 miles south of Miami to Key West, where they will today receive another briefing on operations at the US Southern Command's military base there.  The journalists will return to Belize on Friday. 

LOVEFM


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#460579 - 03/20/13 01:16 PM Re: US,Belizean governments prepare for major exercise [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Special Report From Key West, FL: What US Southcom Sees In Belize

Almost 200 years ago, the Monroe Doctrine was put forth by the United States. In simplest terms it stated that all of South, Central and North America should remain under the prevailing influence of the United States, and not the European powers that had colonized it.

The term was used by American leaders as recently as 30 years ago - and while it has fallen out of vogue recently as the Superpower's attention has shifted to the Muslim world, the US remains very interested in the political and security affairs of Central and South America.

And the clearest expression of that is the US Army Southern Command, known as SOUTHCOM. According to its charter, it is responsible for "providing contingency planning, operations, and security cooperation for Central America, South America and the Caribbean." Last week, Janelle Chanona and other Belizean journalists were invited to SOUTHCOM's Joint Inter-Agency Task Force South in Key west Florida.

That's where the US Army tracks drugs moving north to the United States. It's a rare opportunity to see inside a tremendous military machine - and working with Jesse Mendoza from PLUS TV, Janelle put together this report on the US Army's perspective on security risks in our region:

Janelle Chanona Reporting

Colonel Greg Julian - Chief Public Affairs Officer, US Southern Command
"We all have combined security interests, in particular, transnational organized crime that affects all of us. And because we have limited resources, we can combine our resources and have great effect."

Janelle Chanona "In the Central American underworld, cocaine is king. 95% of the cocaine destined for the United States now passes through this part of the world."

John Murphy - Vice Director, Joint Inter-Agency Task Force South
"Still the primary movement, bulk amounts of cocaine come by the way of the go fast; other means of movement would be by airplane. However, there's also a more insidious way of moving large amounts of cocaine and as you can see behind me here, we have a semi-submersible vessel that can move very large quantities, up to about 8 metric tonnes at a time; very difficult to detect."

Strategically located in Key West Florida, the United States Southern Command's Joint Inter-Agency Task Force South works with 31 Caribbean, Central and South American countries to track the narcotics moving north and the money and weapons heading south...information that ultimately aids its law enforcement partners in the interdiction, apprehension and prosecution of transnational criminals.

And through operations like Operation Martillo, Belizean authorities are helping to drop the hammer on the drug trade. So far, Operation Martillo has netted thousands of tons of cocaine, with a street value in the billions of dollars. It's not everything but it's enough to keep the task force motivated.

John Murphy
"And we don't take credit for all this, let me tell you something, this is the great work between the Central American countries, South American countries, the United States, Mexico, all coming together and working hard against something that's very evil. Last year, this agency alone took down 152 metric tonnes; that's over 30% of all the world took down of cocaine; that's over 60% in the Western Hemisphere. So we think that employing our means and our methods of going as close to the source zone and trying to stop things in bulk is the most efficient means."

Janelle Chanona "When you wrap your head around the fact that drug dealers are so well funded that they are now able to use nearly undetectable devices like submersibles and submarines, it does beg the question, why just not legalize and regulate cocaine. On that point, the Vice Director's position is clear."

John Murphy
"There's nothing good about legalizing a dangerous drug. Cocaine is made of various components the major components being hydrochloric acid, soda ash, diesel fuel; do you really want your kids more exposed to a product like that, And putting that up their nose, I don't think so. And the corrosive effect that comes with the use cocaine in society, it's been my experience as a law enforcement officer for 20 years, legalizing anything that is dangerous is not a good thing."

The US has deployed marines in both Honduras and Guatemala to support the Task Force's anti-drug operations. And while Belize is not an area of high priority, Murphy says the country must remain vigilant.

John Murphy
"Criminal organizations prey, and they develop primary routes usually for three reasons, it's for geographic location to one's primary route; topography, how can you move the product in and through a country and it is the inability to defend one's self. Belize is situated just to the north of the primary flow. It is not within the primary flow. Right now, you're taking a defensive stance. Keep up with that defensive stance and keep pushing those corrosive effects south of your country."

Col. Greg Julian
"It's important that this is a whole of government effort from all our nations. It's not just a law enforcement effort, but there are other capacities that can be brought to bear to deal with this challenge and by making a whole of government effort, I think we'll have greater impact."

Janelle Chanona
"In the context of ever reducing resources of authorities and the impressive innovation of the criminals, the Joint Inter-Agency Task Force South readily concedes that the best weapons in the war on drugs are strong working relationships with countries like Belize."

From Key West, Florida, I am Janelle Chanona.

The 2013 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report released last week by the US State Department, ranks Belize among the major countries listed for narco-trafficking and money laundering. Belize appeared on the list of major narco-trafficking countries with, among others, Afghanistan, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, and Jamaica,.

The report says, quote, "Belize's overall counter-narcotics efforts suffer deficiencies in intelligence gathering, analysis, and capacity of the judicial sector, in addition to corruption and inadequate political will."

Channel 7


On patrol with the US Southern Command

Belize is considered a main transit point for drugs that make their way to the United States by land, sea and air. In the fight against drug trafficking, the US has established a major anti-drug operation center in Florida and because of its sensitive nature; it is off limits to the public. Last year alone, Operation Martillo organized by the Southern Command, seized a hundred and fifty three metric tons of cocaine. News Five’s Isani Cayetano and representatives from other media houses got a tour of the facility last week which coincided with a huge cocaine bust. Here is his report. 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The southernmost city in the continental United States, Key West, Florida is a popular tourist destination.  Every year in the month of March, a mass migration of thousands converge on the island to party along Duval Street during spring break.  Others flock to Monroe County for a little sightseeing, primarily to breeze in on the museum home of Nobel Prize laureate Ernest Hemingway.  But, Key West is more than a seemingly endless drive along the Overseas Highway or just another attractive weekend jaunt.  It is also the seat of JIATF South.  Joint Interagency Task Force South, as it is formally known, is a subordinate of the United States Southern Command.

John Murphy

John Murphy, Vice Director, JIATF South

“JIATF South is the premiere agency for stopping illicit trafficking coming from the source and transit zones, making its way up through Central America, Mexico [and] into the United States.  Our job is to stop bad things and bad people from harming the region in the Western Hemisphere, as well as bad people and things heading out globally.”

Located at the farthest reach of the Florida Straits, it is the nerve center of all maritime and aerial anti-drug operations within Central and South America.  JIATF South is headquartered at the Naval Air Station Key West, an area off limit to visitors.  Its mandate is to circumvent the illegal movement of drugs and weapons, as well as money laundering by forging meaningful relationships with its allies.

Gregg Gillian

Col. Gregg Gillian, Chief Public Affairs Officer, U.S. SouthCom

“Our main objectives are to develop partnerships with the countries in this area and improve regional security.”

Belize, in the context of transnational organized crime, is not only a corridor for the shipment of drugs; it is also a hub for the secondary flow associated with such activities.  The residual effects of unsanctioned traffic are widespread corruption, crime and violence.

John Murphy

“If we’re aware of any illicit movement that’s heading up the Central American isthmus towards the country of Belize we do immediately notify law enforcement in Belize to take action.”

To do so, JIATF South employs intelligence to detect, monitor, and handoff suspected drug traffickers to relevant authorities.  During our overnight stay in Key West, Operation Martillo, headed by the multi-service agency, led U.S. law enforcement to bring the hammer down on dealers attempting to smuggle thirty-five bales of cocaine into the country.

Col. Gregg Gillian

“We’ve seen a significant impact in the interdiction of illicit traffic, especially through our efforts in Operation Martillo and far greater impact in interdicting the drug trafficking than can be achieved in the distant end of traffic routes, and because of those results we are encouraged to continue our efforts.”

Operation Martillo was launched in mid-January 2012.  Participating in the ongoing exercise are a host of countries, including ours.  While Belize is strategically positioned in the upward path of the transshipment route, Honduras has emerged as the destination of choice for cocaine suppliers.  Eighty percent of all drugs heading north lays over along its coast.

John Murphy

“We do see the highest amounts of flows that are coming from the maritime and air environment coming through Guatemala and Honduras and making its way up to criminal organizations in the country of Mexico and across the southwest border into the United States.  There is a direct correlation with the amount of murders within, for example, the country of Honduras.  The country of Honduras has the highest homicide rate in the world.  The country of Honduras has the highest homicide rate for any city in San Pedro Sula of one hundred and sixty-two murders per one hundred thousand.  That is also the highest rate in the world and it is dead center in the primary flow of cocaine coming through their country.”

In the most expensive initiative in Latin America since the Cold War, the United States has militarized the war on drugs, spending north of twenty billion dollars in the past ten years.  But that is about to change.  Sequestration, as it is called, is the result of significant belt-tightening within the defense budget.  The work of the United States Southern Command, particularly through JIATF South, has been remarkable over the past fifty years; however, ongoing and future efforts are being threatened by budgetary constraints.    These limitations have compelled member states to work closer with each other towards achieving a singular objective.

Col. Gregg Gillian

“We’re working hard to bring together the combined resources of all of our nations and we’ll continue to partner with all of the countries in the Southern Command area of responsibility to improve our capacity to work together, to share our techniques and tactics.”

 

Traffickers, on the other hand, are equally up to par with innovation by improving on speed and stealth.  The past few years have seen the rise of the semi-submersible, or what is known in military parlance as a narco-sub.

John Murphy

“The primary means of movement of bulk amounts of cocaine comes by way of the go-fast.  Other means of movement would be through airplanes; however, there’s also a more insidious movement of large amounts of cocaine, as you can see behind me here we have a sem-submersible vessel that can move very large quantities, up to about eight metric tons at a time.”

Since its launch a little over a year ago, approximately one hundred and fifty-three metric tons of cocaine, divided into bales, have been stopped from making shore in the United States as a result of Operation Martillo.  Over twenty-six thousand pounds of marijuana and a little over seven million U.S. dollars in dirty money, as well as a few hundred drug runners have also been busted in international waters, all from this Naval Air Station in Key West. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

Channel 5


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#461017 - 03/26/13 02:12 PM Re: US,Belizean governments prepare for major exercise [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

New Horizons: Winning Hearts and Minds

Last week Janelle Chanona visited the Headquarters of the US Army Southern Command where she found out about their strategic interest in Belize. But it's not all just drug transshipment in submarines that Southcom is looking for; there's also the hearts and minds component where the US military builds goodwill with civil projects.

And that's where New Horizons Belize comes in. The operation is staged in Belize regularly and it was officially opened at the Ladyville Technical High School today.

This year, the project is focuses on providing medical and dental treatment and building classrooms throughout Belize. The US Ambassador explained:

H. E. Vinai Thumalapally - US Ambassador to Belize
"This exercise, allows us to work with the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health and the Belize Defense Force on mutually beneficial programs of New Horizons, while we continue to cement our very strong relationship. This exercise is unique. U.S air men and soldiers from active and National Guard Units will build 4 new classrooms in the Belize and Orange Walk Districts, and render medical services in different villages and towns throughout the country of Belize. These infrastructure projects are being built in underserved areas, and the medical component will complement medical services currently being offered by the Government of Belize while providing valuable training to both the US and Belizeans Military engineers and medical professionals. New Horizons, a humanity and civic persistence exercise, is schedule to construct class room buildings at Crooked Tree Government High School - Government school I meant to say, Trial Farm Government School, Louisiana Government School and right here in Lady Ville Technical High School, where we're all gathered here today, for this momentous and wonderful occasion. There will also be 6 medical exercises providing free medical services; such as General medical care, Family health care, Public health education, Dental, Ophthalmology, Plastic surgery and ENT - ears nose and throat surgery's. These class room buildings will greatly improve the capacity of Belize's Ministry of Education and allow principals and teachers to expand their vision, by providing a good learning environment for even - for ever more youth in Belize."

Approximately 500 U.S military personnel will participate in the exercise on a rotational basis. Another 150 Belizean military personnel are scheduled to participate including 120 civil engineers and 30 medical personnel. Doctors and medical specialists from the U.S, Canada and Belize will also be providing medical treatment to local communities.

Channel 7


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#461831 - 04/06/13 01:38 PM Re: US,Belizean governments prepare for major exercise [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Staff Sgt. Tori Wynn, supply journeyman assigned to the 823rd RED HORSE Squadron, accounts for items that arrived to the port of Belize April 2, 2013, on the U.S. Army Vessel Brandy Station. The containers were filled with supplies for New Horizons, a U.S. Southern Command exercise providing medical and dental treatment as well as constructs needed structures, such as classrooms, throughout Belize. (U.S. Air Force photo/Capt. Holly Hess)

New Horizons’ supplies arrive at Belize port

Nineteen containers arrived to the port of Belize April 2 on U.S. Army Vessels Runnymede and Brandy Station.

The containers were filled with supplies for New Horizons, a U.S. Southern Command exercise providing medical and dental treatment as well as constructs needed structures, such as classrooms, throughout Belize.

New Horizons gives U.S., Canadian and Belizean personnel an opportunity to train jointly in an exercise setting, in order to be prepared to meet future challenges.

This is the second shipment received at the port for the exercise.

Master Sgt. Wilbert Hall, logistics superintendent assigned to the 823rd RED HORSE Squadron, was responsible for coordinating the offload of the goods, accounting for the items, and arranging transportation to get them to proper locations.

“It is an excellent program,” said Hall. “I enjoy helping others. It is great to help other countries and have them see a different part of what we do.”

Hall also stated he really enjoys working with the Belizeans.

“They are great people, really personable people,” said Hall. “They are glad we are here and do anything they can do to help.”

The shipment contained approximately 418 tons of items, to include materials to build the classrooms, medical supplies and equipment.

Civil engineers, from both the U.S. and Belize, are constructing various structures with the items received from the shipment at schools in Ladyville, Crooked Tree and Orange Walk to support furthering the education for the children in the country. Construction is already underway at the four classroom locations.

In addition, doctors and medical specialists from the U.S., Canada, and Belize will provide humanitarian assistance and medical care to the local communities and are scheduled to be in Punta Gorda, Dangriga, Orange Walk, and Belmopan various times during the exercise.

The first clinic to provide free medical services is scheduled to be in Punta Gorda from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 8 and 9 at St. Peter Claver R. C. School, and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 10 to 12 at San Pedro Columbia School. The clinic has the capacity to serve approximately 500 patients per day.

The 19 containers are scheduled to arrive to various sites throughout Belize by April 6.

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#461843 - 04/06/13 02:29 PM Re: US,Belizean governments prepare for major exercise [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Construction Works and Clinics Underway By Military Engineers and Medical Experts From The United States

New Horizons exercise is currently underway in Belize. The team is working in northern Belize as we hear in this report from Dalila Ical.

DALILA ICAL

Military Civil Engineers and Medical Experts from the United States are currently conducting construction work and medical clinics in Belize. The work is taking place under New Horizons 2013 which is a program that provides the US military with training opportunities in deploying and working with international partners. Master Sergeant James Law, in charge of Public Affairs for the New Horizons 2013 exercise in Belize says this year work is ongoing in the northern most part of Belize. The teams are building four schools.

MASTER SERGEANT JAMES LAW

There’s two here in Orange Walk; one is at Trial Farm and one is at Louisiana and we also have school structures down in Ladyville as well as Crooked Tree that are being built. In addition to the schools there's also medical treatment and dental treatment that will be taking place in various parts throughout Belize City as well as down in Punta Gorda, Belmopan, here in Orange Walk and Dangriga. The Government of Belize had given us a list, whenever Belize had agreed to host us, they'd given us a list of areas that they believed could utilize the schools and the medical. We took that list and located the areas that would be able to provide the most training for our teams that were coming in to cooperate and partnership with Belize so we could get that training and take that back as what we learned from it."

DALILA ICAL

Members of the US Military have been doing similar work with New Horizons since the 80s in several Central American countries. The work in Belize is scheduled to conclude at the end of June.

MASTER SERGEANT JAMES LAW

Everyone who we have come in contact with has been extremely hospitable, nice and everyone we have worked with so far, on the professional side has been knowledgeable, helped us to learn and it's been a great partnership up to this point and we look forward to moving forward; it's a great opportunity for both sides."

LOVEFM


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