Under Secretary continues Central, South America tour
August 2, 2011
TEGUCIGALPA, July 25, 2011 -- Under Secretary of the Army Joseph W. Westphal continued his visit to Central and South America today visiting the U.S. Embassy and key military leaders in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.
Westphal is in the region to see firsthand what activities the Army is doing with partner nations and to explore what additional opportunities the Army can pursue in support of security and stability in the region. Accompanying him on the visit is Maj. Gen. Simeon G. Trombitas, commander of U.S. Army South.
The Under Secretary began his visit in the Honduran capital meeting with Acting Chief of Mission Bill Brands at the U.S. Embassy. The country team also provided him with a modified country brief that explained all U.S. agency activities and programs in the country.
“Seems like you have great collaboration here between the Department of Defense and the other U.S. agencies (at the embassy),” said Westphal at the end of the country brief.
Col. Jeff Blalock, military group commander, and Army Section Chief Maj. Luiciano Gonzalez, also provided information on their activities. They discussed in detail U.S. military interaction with the Honduran military and their efforts to build partner nation capacity and ensure interoperability with Honduran forces.
Much of the U.S. military mission in Honduras is focused upon working with Honduran forces to counter illicit narcotics trafficking. According to Drug Enforcement Administration and Joint Interagency Task Force South officials, Honduras is the primary destination for cocaine coming out of South America and is a major stopping point for cocaine heading to the U.S.
The military group’s efforts are aimed at raising Honduran capability in order to build a Honduran solution to the trafficking issue that is integrated with U.S. efforts.
Westphal also visited with the Honduran Vice Minister of Defense as well as the Vice Chief of Defense and the Army Commander.
Each expressed appreciation for the Army’s partnership and support for regional security. They discussed Honduran military efforts to counter narcotics trafficking and the need for the U.S. and Honduras to continue to work together in this area of mutual concern.
Westphal will visit three more countries during his week-long trip to the region.