Beyond the Horizon civic assistance exercise opens in Guatemala

By Lt. Col. Carol McClelland Army South Public Affairs


Guatemalan and U.S. forces stood side by side in formation during a ceremony to open a joint-foreign military humanitarian civic assistance exercise called Beyond the Horizon April 7 in San Marcos, Guatemala.

Nestled between lush, green fields scattered with grazing cows, a variety of military vehicles displayed in an arch formation showcased some

Guatemalan army equipment.

Nearby, Soldiers from the Guatemalan Mountain Brigade demonstrated their capabilities as they repelled from trees and across ropes as different colors of smoke wafted through the air. A military band played ceremonial music and the Color Guard, which included flags from both nations, marched to the center of the field.

Speakers took turns with translations shifting from Spanish to English for an audience that included the Guatemalan Minister of Defense and a number of other Guatemalan government cabinet members, as well as senior ranking military officials from both countries.

“This will be a tremendous achievement and proof that partnerships do work,” said Brig. Gen. Richard Torres, Army South deputy commanding general, formally kicking off the 15-week event that began in March. “Thanks to the relationships built and sustained with our Guatemalan partners through previous exercises and operations, we are able to build upon our training and interaction to enhance security and stability in the region.”

Beyond the Horizon is a U.S. Southern Command joint training exercise that takes place annually in designated countries.

As the land service component to SOUTHCOM and the lead executive agent, U.S. Army South works closely with partner nation armies in Central and South America and the Caribbean to strengthen security cooperation throughout the Western hemisphere.

The planning for

Beyond the Horizon 2016 in Guatemala began about 18 months earlier, according to planners who said sharing knowledge and skills and working together helps enhance partner nation capacity and the ability to respond collectively to real-world threats.

Active, Reserve and National Guard forces are taking part, as well as participants from Chile, Colombia, Brazil, Peru and Canada. The majority of the U.S. participants rotate for several weeks at a time but there are also some long-term duration staff.

Plans for this exercise include the completion of five engineering projects – three medical clinics and two schools, giving service members from the U.S. Army, Air Force, Marines and Guatemalan forces the opportunity to work together with governmental and non-governmental agencies.

But Dr. Marylin de Sosa, Guatemalan Ministry of Health international cooperation coordinator saw the exercise as a much more important opportunity for her country.

“There are problems in Guatemala because of corruption,” de Sosa said. “We want to change that, but we can’t do it alone. There are too many infrastructure and equipment problems and we can’t fix everything quickly. But the population requires that we fix problems as quickly as we can because there are people dying. We are very thankful for the help that’s being offered through this program, especially the medical centers and all the equipment that’s going to be in there as well.”

In addition to the planned construction projects, this Beyond the Horizon exercise includes three medical assistance events that will provide public health and preventative medicine, adult and pediatric medicine, medical education, immunizations, and nutritional counseling as well as dentistry to remote communities. Medical providers are prepared to treat up to 1,000 patients a day at each location.