From April through June 2013, U.S. military personnel were in Belize, El Salvador, and Panama to conduct comprehensive humanitarian civic assistance exercises. As part of the Beyond the Horizon & New Horizons exercise programs, troops specializing in engineering, construction and health care provided needed services to communities while receiving valuable deployment training and building important relationships with partner nations.
EL SALVADOR (June 18, 2013) -- Mari Carmen Aponte, U.S. Ambassador to El Salvador, and Salvadoran Minister of Defense Gen. Jose Atillio Benitez, unveil an engraved plaque during the Beyond the Horizon-El Salvador 2013 closing ceremony that commemorated countries and units who participated in the humanitarian exercise. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Kristina Gupton/Released)
Beyond the Horizon and New Horizons are U.S. Southern Command-sponsored, joint foreign military interaction/humanitarian exercises. During the exercises, U.S. troops work with a variety of governmental and non-governmental agencies to train in civil-military operations skill sets while providing medical and dental care and engineering support to local populations. The exercises are planned and coordinated closely with multiple agencies and host nation governments to creatively address the level and scope of medical care and engineering assistance required.
U.S. Army South is the executive agent for the two Beyond the Horizon exercises in El Salvador and Panama.
The New Horizons exercise in Belize is led by U.S. Air Forces Southern.
Hundreds of U.S. service members, representing National Guard, Active and Reserve forces from all services were in Belize, El Salvador and Panama at any one time during each exercise. The vast majority of personnel deployed for short periods of time, not including long-term staff.
The make-up of the forces was primarily U.S. military engineers and medical professionals.
Beyond the Horizon and New Horizons require units to carefully plan and conduct logistical operations to support these deployments to remote regions. Such mobilization and real-world execution provides unparalleled training that cannot be simulated in the United States.
Humanitarian services provided
The civic action programs were designed to assist in providing local communities -- many of which are remote -- with a wide range of construction capabilities. The projects included building repairs and improvements, new small construction projects, utility system repairs, construction and technical assistance.
U.S. military health care professionals conducted multiple Medical Readiness Training Exercises (MEDRETEs) in each country, working with host nation medical personnel to provide general and specialized medical and dental services to thousands of citizens requiring care. These services included public health and preventive medicine, dental care, adult and pediatric medicine, medical education, immunizations, and nutritional counseling.
The exercises also included veterinarian care, a vital service that ensures the safety of valuable food sources and helps prevent diseases that could be passed from animals and livestock to a population.
The training events enhanced the medical readiness training of U.S. forces as well as provided sustained health benefit to the population. Additionally, the relationships forged during these exercises can be called upon in the event of a regional situation that requires a cooperative response.
Beyond the Horizon is a joint foreign military interaction/humanitarian exercise. Begun in 2008, Beyond the Horizon continues U.S. Southern Command’s proud legacy of humanitarian civic assistance exercise programs in the region. The governments of each participating nation, the U.S. Department of State, and Department of Defense have carefully evaluated and approved these exercises.
New Horizons is an annual series of joint and combined humanitarian assistance exercises that U.S. Southern Command conducts in Latin American and Caribbean nations. Since New Horizons began in the mid-1980s, U.S. troops have deployed annually for the exercise.