GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala –
U.S. Marines with the Aviation Combat Element, Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force - Southern Command, kicked off their arrival to Guatemala with a media day at the La Aurora International Airport in Guatemala City, Guatemala, July 31, 2017.
The Marines welcomed U.S. ambassador to Guatemala Todd D. Robinson, Guatemalan Air Force Gen. Timo Hernandez Duarte, members of a U.S. Embassy-sponsored educational exchange program, and local media outlets to tour two CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters, meet the crews, and field questions with the commander of SPMAGTF-SC about the unit's operations in the country.
“This is a great opportunity for the Marines to be here and work with our Guatemalan partners,” said U.S. Marine Capt. Brendan T. Carroll, the operations officer for the ACE, SPMAGTF-SC. “It lets us show off the different capabilities of our equipment, as well as highlights the diversity of the Marine Corps as a whole and what we can accomplish.”
At the invitation of the Guatemalan Government, the ACE will be based in Retalhuleu, Guatemala, for approximately three weeks. This will allow the ACE to support other elements of SPMAGTF-SC, including the Logistics Combat Element and the Ground Combat Element, as they work on engineering projects and conduct training with the Guatemalan Armed Forces.
“We are supporting the LCE in their various engineering and infrastructure improvement projects throughout the country,” said U.S. Marine Cpl. Arkangel R. Segarraorta, aviation mechanic with the ACE, SPMAGTF-SC. “We are prepared to assist them, as well as the GCE, with any heavy lift capabilities, and transport personnel and equipment from point A to point B.”
The ACE is also prepared to rapidly respond to a humanitarian emergency, if needed.
“Our time in Guatemala is a great way for us to further develop our training,” Segarraorta said. “We are bettering our skills so we are prepared to mobilize in the event of conducting responses to natural disasters in our area of operation.”
The approximately 300 active and reserve Marines and sailors of SPMAGTF-SC are operating primarily in Guatemala, Honduras, Belize and El Salvador, but the task force is also deploying mobile training teams to five other countries in the region to conduct training with host nation forces there. Each location serves as another opportunity for Marines and sailors to build upon security cooperation efforts and strengthen relationships in the region.
“Us operating in Guatemala opens up many doors with the host nation,” Carroll said. “It lets us showcase not only our capabilities, but also is a way to show that we are here to help, further develop relationships and continue to enhance our shoulder-to-shoulder training.”