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Disaster Relief in Central America

From Nov. 2 - Dec. 2, 2020, U.S. military personnel and assets, led by Joint Task Force-Bravo, supported disaster relief efforts in Colombia, Honduras, Guatemala and Panama in the aftermath of Hurricanes Eta and Iota. After the storms, the U.S. military conducted life-saving, aerial rescue operations and delivered aid and supplies in each country.

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Final Update (Dec. 3)

After nearly a month of supporting Foreign Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief operations under authorities granted by the Acting Secretary of Defense, at the request of U.S. Agency for International Development, U.S. Southern Command and Joint Task Force-Bravo concluded immediate response missions for Hurricanes Eta and Iota in Central America on Dec. 2, 2020.

During the course of JTF-Bravo’s authorities to conduct FHA/DR missions, the command supported 295 missions, providing medical and casualty evacuations for people in need of urgent care. JTF-Bravo’s assets rescued 810 citizens, transported 163 rescue and aid workers, and nearly 350,000 pounds of food, water, hygiene kits, and other life-saving aid. Additionally, JTF-Bravo transported nearly 564,000 pounds of relief supplies in support of the USAID-led humanitarian response to the region.

JTF-Bravo worked closely throughout the disaster relief efforts with USAID, the U.S. Embassies in Guatemala, Honduras and Panama, and members and assets from USSOUTHCOM, U.S. Army South, U.S. Naval Forces South, U.S. Air Forces South, U.S. Special Operations Command-South, the U.S. Coast Guard, the United Kingdom Royal Fleet Auxiliary, and the French Navy. 

About the U.S. Forces Supporting Central American Relief

About 250 troops from JTF-Bravo, U.S. Army South, Special Operations Command South, and other U.S. Southern Command entities supported missions in Colombia, Honduras, Panama, and Guatemala. The task force used HH-60 Black Hawk and CH-47 Chinook helicopters to conduct aerial missions. USS William P. Lawrence (DDG 110), USS Comstock (LSD 45), and USS Sioux City (LCS 11) also supported operations. On Nov. 22, a U.S. Air Force C-130, from the 317th Air Wing, Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, transported 68 Colombian Army Soldiers to the Colombian island of San Andrés to support post-Hurricane Iota lifesaving and disaster-relief operations in the nearby Colombian island of Providencia.

Background

The mission of Joint Task Force-Bravo includes being prepared to support disaster relief operations in Central America, South America and the Caribbean, when directed by SOUTHCOM. JTF-B’s training and strategic location allows them to mobilize and respond to an emergency with very short notice, enabling them to rapidly respond to the needs of our partners.

U.S. military support in a foreign disaster relief effort must be requested by the host nation. Under SOUTHCOM direction, U.S. military forces support the comprehensive U.S. government disaster response approach led by U.S. Agency for International Development’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance. Department of Defense commanders are authorized to direct assigned forces at or near the immediate scene of a foreign disaster to take prompt action to save human lives.

Learn More: 4 Ways USAID is Responding to Hurricanes Iota and Eta

Video by Staff Sgt. Elijaih Tiggs
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JTF-Bravo rescues Honduran child
Joint Task Force Bravo
Nov. 6, 2020 | 0:14
A U.S. Army HH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crew assigned to the 1-228th Aviation Regiment, Joint Task Force-Bravo rescues a Honduran child from Hurricane Eta’s high floodwaters at San Pedro Sula, Honduras, Nov. 6, 2020.
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