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News | May 12, 2023

New York Army Guard Leaders Plan Exercise with Brazil

By Staff Sgt. Jonathan Pietrantoni, New York National Guard

FOZ DO IGUAZU, Brazil - Two New York Army National Guard leaders visited State Partnership Program partner Brazil May 1-5 to lay the groundwork for Guard participation in a Brazilian disaster response exercise in August.

Capt. Stephanie Fernandez, a staff officer with the 53rd Troop Command, and 1st Sgt. Amanda Elfried, the top enlisted leader for the 466th Medical Company, Area Support, participated in a logistics planning conference in Foz do Iguazu.

The 466th will send 15 Soldiers to work with Brazilian medical personnel during Operation Parana Aug. 12-19.

The 53rd Troop Command will also send two Soldiers from the 138th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment to cover the training.

The New York Soldiers and Airmen have trained with Brazilian military personnel since 2019 when Brazil and the New York National Guard initialed a State Partnership Program agreement.

This will be the first time American Soldiers have joined the Brazilian disaster response exercise. Brazilian Army Lt. Col. Homem Nelson said 20 countries are expected to participate.

“It will be one of the largest humanitarian aid exercises in the Southern Hemisphere in 2023,” Nelson said.

Brazil’s army has extensive experience in health support during international operations, Nelson said. Brazil sent aid to Haiti when that country was hit by an earthquake in 2010. And the Brazilian military has experience conducting medical missions in some of Brazil’s isolated communities.

“This opportunity to work together with another great army, the U.S. Army, represented by the New York Army National Guard, gives us the expectation of exchanging state-of-the-art knowledge and establishing friendships,” Nelson said. “The fact that this operation is based in Brazil fills us with pride and will give us the opportunity to show the best of our land, our people and our army.”

The 466th Medical Company is based in Queensbury, New York, and deployed to Iraq in 2006 and Kuwait in 2020. 

This will be the company’s first training exchange with the Brazilian Army, though members have participated in State Partnership Program exchanges with the South African National Defence Force.

Elfried said the Soldiers are looking forward to the August training mission.

“Working with our partner country is an amazing opportunity to share ideas and knowledge and practice the art of medicine,” Elfried said. “We expect to find a vast number of similarities, but we hope to learn from the differences.”

The unit’s Soldiers will deal with simulated injuries and illnesses anticipated during a real disaster, Elfried said. The Soldiers will also be prepared to deal with health issues people experience when a disaster displaces them.

She said these could include near-drowning, hypothermia, trauma, insect bite complications and contaminated water and food.

“We are very fortunate to be involved in a multinational event. It’s a great opportunity to work and train in a large-scale civil support operation,” she said.

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