Beyond the Horizon kicks-off in Colombia
August 5, 2009
FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas (July 8, 2009) -- At the invitation of the Colombian government, distinguished visitors from Colombia and the U.S., community leaders and members of the U.S. and Colombian military gathered at an opening ceremony in Cartagena to kick-off the humanitarian civic assistance mission Beyond the Horizon on July 8.
Beyond the Horizon is an operation in support of the U.S. Southern Command initiative called Partnership for the Americas Collaboration and Coordination Element (PACCE). It offers opportunities for the U.S. military to work with members of the Colombian military to improve interoperability in order to promote trust and foster willingness for continued collaboration and teamwork.
"There was a feeling of excitement at the ceremony," said Capt. Abraham Rossell, PACCE executive officer with the Texas National Guard's 71st Battlefield Surveillance Brigade. "Everyone was energized and ready to start the mission that we had been planning for several months."
Beyond the Horizon is an ongoing U.S. Southern Command mission that is planned and executed by U.S. Army South to provide engineering renovations and medical treatment at various locations throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.
As part of the Colombia-U.S. partnership, U.S. Army South works closely with the government of Colombia to identify locations for assistance based on medical and engineering needs and the ability to partner with the local community to complete the projects.
"From the beginning of the planning we have received plenty of support from both the Colombian Armed Forces and the civilian population in Cartagena," said Capt. Francisco Torrent, U.S. Army South BTH planner for Colombia. "They have created an environment of trust and openness, therefore creating a positive impact in the U.S. and Colombian relationship."
During the month-long operation, units under the direction of U.S. Army South conducted six renovation projects and medical readiness training exercises, or MEDRETES. The MEDRETES were conducted at the Omaira SAfA!nchez community center, while the engineering projects took place at the elementary school, Hogar Infantil La Candelaria.
In addition to providing humanitarian assistance, BTH also provides valuable opportunities for U.S. medical and engineering personnel to learn from and train with Colombian experts. This experience contributes to the ability of the U.S. military to respond rapidly in support of relief efforts anywhere in the world.
"This type of mission not only improves the training readiness of the United States military engineer and medical personnel, but also promotes a positive feeling between the partner nation and the United States," said Torrent.
The BTH mission exemplifies the relationships built and sustained with partner nations in Latin America and the Caribbean region, and enhances U.S. Army South's commitment to regional peace and stability.
"I am honored and grateful to be given the opportunity to interact with Colombians, and not only just their military, but the general population," said Rossell.
U.S. Army units providing support to BTH are the 223rd Engineering Battalion, with the Mississippi National Guard, and the 7246th Installation Medical Support Unit (IMSU), out of Omaha, Neb. The command and control element for PACCE is with the Texas National Guard from San Antonio, Texas.