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News | March 14, 2023

SOUTHCOM hosts Integrated Advance 23 mass migration exercise

DORAL, Fla. – From February 27 to March 3, U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) hosted Homeland Security Task Force – Southeast for Integrated Advance 23, an annual interagency exercise focused on humanitarian crisis response.

Integrated Advance provides an opportunity for SOUTHCOM and its military components to enhance relationships and work closely with federal, state and local components. SOUTHCOM and HSTF-SE partners share similar regional stability and maritime security interests within the Caribbean basin.

“We look forward to these exercises each year with our SOUTHCOM partners to exercise the joint force and closely examine our planning and readiness to respond in the event of a humanitarian crisis in the Caribbean,” said Rear Adm. Brendan C. McPherson, director of HSTF-SE and commander of the Seventh Coast Guard District.

SOUTHCOM and component military command leaders from Air Force South, Army South, Marine Corps South, Navy South and others participated with personnel representing various agencies and offices within the Department of Homeland Security, Department of State, the State of Florida and others. The Department of Homeland Security is the lead federal agency responsible for mass migration operations. The U.S. Coast Guard is both a military service and the lead federal agency for maritime law enforcement. SOUTHCOM trains every year in preparation to support, when directed, HSTF-SE’s Operation Vigilant Sentry plan for a maritime mass migration.

HSTF-SE was established in 2003 and frequently coordinates efforts across multiple federal, state and local agencies to discuss, review and validate plans, procedures and capabilities, to maximize readiness to respond to maritime migration events throughout the Caribbean. HSTF-SE is comprised of more than 50 federal, state and local agencies, and is designed to place personnel and assets at the disposal of the director of the Task Force in accordance with OVS. As a standing task force and a scalable operational plan, HSTF-SE and OVS are always actively in place and being exercised. Integrated Advance is a contingency exercise for strategic planning and coordination of U.S. Department of Defense involvement, if activated.

For more information, follow U.S. Southern Command, U.S. Coast Guard Southeast and Homeland Security Task Force – Southeast on Twitter.