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SPS 17 Team Holds Closing Ceremony in Guatemala

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Brittney Cannady, Southern Partnership Station 17 Public Affairs

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PUERTO BARRIOS, Guatemala (NNS) -- U.S. and Guatemalan military personnel marked the conclusion of partner nation engagements in Guatemala and the end of Southern Partnership Station 17 (SPS 17), in a closing ceremony held at Commando Naval del Caribe, a Guatemalan naval base, Oct. 20.

The event highlighted six weeks of subject matter expert exchanges with Guatemalan military counterparts and civilian health care providers, as well as community relations projects (COMREL) completed in the local area.

"Thank you for your valuable collaboration with us," said Capt. Mario Artemio Veliz Lopez, commander of Commando Naval del Caribe. "The people of this municipality [Puerto Barrios] are very grateful for the work, goodwill and developments that were done here."

Sailors assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 1 drilled a well in the Colonia El Mitch community of Puerto Barrios, which will provide approximately 10,000 people with access to fresh water.

Navy medical professionals provided more than 140 lectures and exchanges on vector control, basic life support and other preventive medicine topics.

SPS 17 doctors, nurses and hospital corpsmen also led combat life-saving and mass-casualty training for Guatemalan military and civilian first responders.

Finally, SPS 17 troops completed several construction projects during COMRELs throughout the local community, including Centro de Atencion Mis Años Dorados, a local elder care facility, Hospital Nacional Infantil Elisa Martinez and Hospital Nacional de la Amistad Japon-Guatemala.

Veliz expressed gratitude for the camaraderie developed among U.S. and Guatemalan naval forces during SPS 17.

"The friendships and cultural exchanges carried out between Guatemalan and U.S. Naval forces were very important and significant to see, since they shared beneficial experiences, on both personal and professional levels," said Veliz.

SPS 17 Ashore Mission Commander Lt. Cmdr. Joshua Perry also shared appreciation for the opportunity to strengthen regional partnerships by recognizing local health ministry representatives, first responders and interpreters.

"We set out on SPS 17 to work with our Central and South American military and civilian partners, to exchange knowledge, and to increase our countries' interoperability," said Perry. "Our continued cooperation makes the Caribbean region stronger, more secure, and more prosperous, and it was a success."

"On behalf of the entire SPS 17 team, I want to give thanks for the support we have received during our time here in Puerto Barrios," said Perry. "I want to congratulate the naval forces of Guatemala and the U.S. on a job well done."

SPS 17 is a U.S. Navy deployment executed by U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet, focused on subject-matter expert exchanges with partner nation militaries and security forces in Central and South America.

USNAVSO/FOURTHFLT supports USSOUTHCOM's joint and combined military operations by employing maritime forces in cooperative maritime security operations to access, enhance interoperability and build enduring partnerships in order to enhance regional security and promote peace, stability and prosperity in the Caribbean, Central and South American regions.

For more news from U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command & U.S. 4th Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/cusns/.

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