June 24, 2016 —
Brig. Gen. James P. Wong traveled to Guatemala City, Guatemala June 7-9, to formally close out the Beyond the Horizon Guatemala 2016 exercise. The exercise officially opened April 7, with operations to build schools and clinics in multiple rural locations. Arriving early, Wong personally visited several of the sites to assess the progress first-hand.
“We joined forces to build three new clinics and two new schools for the people of Guatemala. By working together, our Soldiers gained valuable experience from Guatemalan civilians and military experts,” said Wong.
Beyond the Horizon is a joint foreign military interaction and humanitarian exercise sponsored by U.S. Southern Command that involves hundreds of U.S. service members representing the National Guard, Army Reserve and active forces. These units deploy for short periods of time to support and implement agreed upon tasks developed during the planning phase.
The combined joint efforts over the past three months resulted in two new school buildings with classrooms, outfitted with digital computers, desks and chairs. The three new clinic facilities included medical equipment and hygiene kits.
The military works as a team with multiple agencies and organizations in order to provide the people of Guatemala with the much needed civic assistance. Wong personally thanked the host nation, U.S. forces, private public partnerships and non-governmental organizations during his closing ceremony remarks.
“I want to sincerely express my gratitude to the local community leaders, minister of defense, the embassy ambassador and the chief of defense,” Wong said. “This exercise greatly strengthened our relationship and ability to work together to meet future needs,” said Wong.
“The continued relationships with our Guatemalan partners continues to enhance security and stability in the region. Above all, this mission is about people and our desire to work together to make things better.”
Since its inception in the mid-1980s, U.S. troops have deployed annually for this exercise which takes place in different countries as designated by U.S. Southern Command. As nations with common interests, the U.S. and Guatemala continued to strengthen their military to military partnership throughout the exercise by building friendships, working together and learning from one another.