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After unloading Soldiers from USAREUR’s 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne) during a Combined Arms Live-Fire Exercise at the Grafenwoehr (Germany) Training Area, March 28, 2014. The CALFEX at the Joint Multinational Training Center was part of a Mission Rehearsal Exercise that brought the two brigades together along with F16 fighters from U.S. Air Forces in Europe to prepare the 12th for it’s upcoming deployment to Afghanistan. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Glenn M. Anderson, USAREUR Public Affairs / Released)

U.S. Military forces conduct humanitarian and disaster relief exercise in Belize

Currently, the United States Southern Command (U.S. SOUTHCOM) is conducting the Keel-Billed Toucan (KBT), a U.S. military humanitarian and disaster relief exercise in partnership with the Government of Belize. The training is near Ladyville, north of Belize City, from January 7th to the 21st, and is led by the Joint Task Force-Bravo (JTF-Bravo), a unit based in Soto Cano Air Base in Honduras.

In an official note issued by the U.S. Embassy in Belize, they advised people in the surrounding areas to expect helicopters flying around as part of the exercise. The JTF-Bravo routinely trains for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions. This unit is equipped with unique airlift capabilities that can rapidly respond to save lives and mitigate suffering in the immediate aftermath of natural disasters. The KBT exercise will include using U.S. Army CH-47 and UH-60 helicopters to deploy 150 U.S. service members from the American base in Honduras. JTF Bravo Commander Colonel Steven Gventer will monitor the military training. He noted that the task force is uniquely positioned and highly capable of providing quick, effective assistance to local communities throughout the region during times of need. “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,” Commander Gventer said.

The U.S. Chargé d’Affaires, a.i. Leyla Moses at the American Embassy in Belize said that through such exercise, her country 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,” said Moses.

The U.S. SOUTHCOM emphasized that the training is critical to be ready during a natural disaster crisis and enhance the already strong U.S.-Belize bilateral ties.

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The United States is committed to continuing its role as a leader in humanitarian assistance.

U.S. Uniformed Service Members with Joint Task Force-Bravo will conduct a joint medical mission in Belize this upcoming week. In partnership with the Ministry of Health & Wellness, a team of American military members will be at the Jalacte and San Pedro Columbia villages in the Toledo District from January 9 - 14 to provide preventative medicine, primary care, dental, and pharmacy services. Opening hours for the clinics are 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

These #KBT engagements are examples of the United States’ Enduring Promise to support a safer and more resilient Belize, at the same time building our military’s capacity in health service and disaster preparedness.