By Mr. Robert Ramon (ARSOUTH)June 21, 2013
"Beyond the Horizon is an opportunity for collaboration between nations," said Brig. Gen. Orlando Salinas, U.S. Army South deputy commanding general. "It epitomizes the strength of collaboration and partnership."
Along with Salinas, attendees for the ceremony included Jonathan Farrar, U.S. Ambassador to Panama, and Manuel Moreno, vice minister for Panama's Ministry of Public Security.
Beyond the Horizon (BTH) 2013 is an exercise deploying U.S. military engineers and medical professionals to Panama and El Salvador for training, while providing humanitarian services to rural communities.
Conducted annually, BTH is part of U.S. Army South and U.S. Southern Command's (SOUTHCOM) humanitarian and civic assistance program. Working closely with host-nation forces and civilian organizations, BTH teams provided medical, dental and engineering support.
These types of exercises are a major part of Army South's regional engagement efforts and afford the opportunity to train service members while providing needed services to communities throughout the region. The relationships built and sustained assist in building security and stability in the region.
"Beyond the Horizon 2013 strengthened the mutual cooperation that has always existed between the United States and Panama," said Moreno. "It's a perfect opportunity to tighten the nexus of friendship between both nations."
During the four-month exercise, smaller medical readiness training exercises (MEDRETEs) take place, which consist of a team of military medical and dental professionals who work in austere areas to gain valuable military experience, while also providing medical services to people in need of treatment.
BTH-Panama 2013 was conducted in the Panamanian provinces of Colon, Veraguas and Darien where more than 13,600 patients were treated by military medical professionals while military engineers constructed two clinic buildings, a dormitory, bathroom facilities, breezeways, retaining walls, septic systems and water towers and made repairs to existing structures.
"These facilities represent a very important achievement," said Moreno. "They will allow us to improve the overall health condition of the local population. We are very happy that this took place between the governments of the United States, Colombia and Panaman during Beyond the Horizon 2013."
According to Salinas, the strong support from the governments of Panama and Colombia, which sent medical professionals to support BTH-Panama, is a reason this year's BTH exercise was a success.
"You saw our Panamanian and Colombian partners here making an effort to identify capacities," said Salinas. "The positive impact made on the local population will last for years."
Salinas said the exercise demonstrated the spirit of partnership and equality to which the United States is committed.
"We are nations with common interests, proud of the progress and partnerships we have made together and ready to assume greater interactions in the future," said Salinas of the partner nation armies working together during BTH. "When we come together and focus on a common goal, such as Beyond the Horizon, there is nothing we can't accomplish."
Army South has planned and conducted BTHs since 2008 in multiple countries such as the Dominican Republic, Guatemala and Honduras. The exercise is scheduled to be conducted in the Dominican Republic and Guatemala in 2014. Each BTH typically involves and trains about 1,400 U.S. service members and 150 host-nation personnel.