News | Aug. 31, 2018

U.S. Navy Medical Team Begins Subject Matter Exchanges in Colombia

By Southern Partnership Station 2018 Public Affairs

SANTA MARTA, Colombia (NNS) -- A team of U.S. Navy medical professionals arrived in Colombia Aug. 25 to begin subject matter expert exchanges (SMEE) and partner capacity building engagements with Colombian medical professionals and security forces in the town of Riohacha as part of Southern Partnership Station (SPS) 2018. 

SPS brings a Fleet Health Engagement Team (FHET) to conduct SMEEs with Colombian representatives including exchanges with medical and non-medical personnel. Specific topics covered in the SMEEs include preventative medicine, tactical combat casualty care, insect-borne disease prevention, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief response procedures. 

“The FHET will conduct subject matter expert exchanges with military and civilian organizations to effectively share U.S. Navy medicine’s best practices and lessons learned,” said Lt. David Cruz, FHET officer in charge. “The team will engage in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, tactical combat casualty care, and public health exchanges to effectively develop strong partnerships across the U.S. Southern Command’s area of responsibility.” 

This mission stop in Colombia marks the second FHET engagement for SPS 18, and follows a successful stop in Trinidad and Tobago. FHET members are also scheduled to conduct mission stops in Honduras and El Salvador to work alongside those nations’ military forces, security forces, and civilian health professionals. 

"The role here is to share experiences about pre-hospital trauma care so that we can execute best practices and prevent unnecessary deaths,” said Lt. Cmdr. Rachel Carter, a U.S. Navy emergency medicine nurse assigned to the FHET. "By sharing our experiences, we can better prepare to work together and respond to natural disasters." 

Held on an annual basis by U.S. Southern Command and executed by U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet, Southern Partnership Station is a U.S. Navy deployment focused on SMEEs with partner nation militaries and security forces in the Caribbean, Central and South America. 

The SPS mission is normally supported by the expeditionary fast transport ship USNS Spearhead (T-EPF 1), but this engagement will notice teams have arrived in Colombia aboard the Whidbey Island-class amphibious dock landing ship USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44).

Gunston Hall’s visit to Colombia is part of the Southern Seas, and UNITAS missions that are operating simultaneously with Southern Partnership Station. Southern Seas is an annual collaborative deployment in the U.S. Southern Command area of responsibility where a task group deploys to conduct various exercises and multinational exchanges to enhance interoperability, increase regional stability, and build and maintain regional relationships. Southern Partnership Station, Southern Seas, and UNITAS operate under the leadership of Capt. Brian J. Diebold, commodore of Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 40. 

Focused on enhancing cooperative partnerships with regional maritime services, SPS aims to improve operational readiness for all participants. Additionally, the mission will provide an opportunity for U.S. and partner nations to operate in a multinational environment, refine coordination, improve interoperability, and demonstrate flexibility. 

SPS is a demonstration of the strong U.S. commitment to partners in the Caribbean, Central and South America, fostering goodwill and enhancing our collective ability to respond to natural disasters and humanitarian crises. SPS 18 will conclude in October 2018.

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