US Military to spend time in Belize


DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. 15 February 2013 – Twelfth Air Force (Air Forces Southern), in conjunction with the U.S. Embassy and the government and defense forces of Belize, will conduct an event called New Horizons in the spring. The exercise is an annual event conducted to train military civil engineers and medical professionals to deploy and conduct joint operations.

Construction equipment and materials for a joint U.S. – Belizean exercise is scheduled to begin arriving into ports in Belize in the spring for New Horizons 2013, a major event that will test U.S. military members’ ability to deploy while building partnerships with host-nation medical and civil engineering experts.

The exercise itself, overseen by U.S. Southern Command and planned by Air Forces Southern, is slated to last approximately 90 days with several construction projects to add new classrooms and buildings to existing schools with manpower provided by both U.S. and Belizean military engineers.

In addition, combined U.S. and Belizean medical teams will conduct multiple medical events to provide medical services to Belizeans.

Preparations have been going on for months to kickoff construction and medical events in the spring, according to planners. The construction equipment and materials scheduled to arrive will be received, stored and secured by the Belize Defense Force who will also be participating in the exercise.

“Deploying the equipment and supplies that exercise participants need is a major part of the New Horizons,” said Capt. Richard Hallon, one the exercise’s staff planners. “We’ve got to pack and prep the right equipment and materials in the U.S., work with U.S. Transportation Command to have those items shipped to the partner-nation participating in the exercise, and coordinate for the storage and security of those supplies until the exercise participants arrive.”

New Horizons dates back to the 1980s and is conducted in a Central American, South American or Caribbean partner-nation at the government’s request. Once the location is determined, the host-nation government assembles and prioritizes a list of proposed medical and construction projects, which is balanced against the exercise’s training objectives to ensure that participants get the maximum training benefit. From there, planning for the deployment and all of the things that go with it begins.

“New Horizons provides U.S. service members with training that they can’t get at home,” added Mr. Chris Donovan, the lead exercise planner for his sixth New Horizons. “This process is all about being able to plan and carry out a deployment from start to finish. There are some experiences that simply can’t be gained by talking through the process. This exercise provides our service members with an opportunity to gain experience that enables them to be ready to answer the call when and where needed for a real world humanitarian need or crisis-type situation.”

The other key benefit U.S. service members receive from New Horizons, is the opportunity to learn from and build partnerships with the exercise participants from the host-nation’s government and military forces, he added.

Over the past 20 years, U.S. Southern Command has regularly partnered with the Belize Defense Force as well as the Ministries of Health and Education to conduct combined exercises that make both sides more prepared to respond to humanitarian relief scenarios.

Last year’s iteration of New Horizons provided humanitarian and civic assistance through six projects in the Chincha, Pisco, and Independencia regions of Peru hit hard by a devastating earthquake in 2007. Projects included the construction of a multi-complex community center and clinic, as well as free medical care to an estimated more than 22,500 people.

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