By Robert R. RamonMay 12, 2014
BARAHONA, Dominican Republic (May 12, 2014) -- U.S. Army South marked the official start of Beyond the Horizon-Dominican Republic 2014, during a ceremony in here May 6, where U.S. military engineers and medical professionals arrived to conduct real-world training, while providing needed services to communities throughout the country.
As an example of cooperation between partner nation countries, including Canada, Chile, Colombia, the Dominican Republic and the U.S., participants in Beyond the Horizon-Dominican Republic will embark on a campaign of medical tours and construction projects over the next four months.
"Our theme is 'people helping people,'" said Brig. Gen. Orlando Salinas, U.S. Army South deputy commanding general. "The people we're helping during this exercise may not remember our names, they may not remember our faces, but they will never forget that one day service members from different countries came together to help them."
Along with Salinas, attendees at the ceremony included Maj. Gen. Pedro A. Caceres, Dominican Republic vice minister of defense, Pedro Pena, Barahona Province governor and Dan Foote, deputy chief of mission of the U.S. Embassy in the Dominican Republic.
Beyond the Horizon, conducted annually, is part of U.S. Army South and U.S. Southern Command's humanitarian and civic assistance program. At the invitation of the host government, Beyond the Horizon teams work closely with host-nation forces and civilian organizations to provide 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.
"It's a great opportunity for us to learn from the great soldiers here in the Dominican Republic and to establish new relationships while strengthening existing ones," said Salinas.
During the four-month exercise, smaller medical readiness training exercises, known as MEDRETEs, take place. These consist of a team of military medical and dental professionals who work in austere areas to gain valuable military training and experience, while also providing medical services to people in need of treatment.
Previous Beyond the Horizon MEDRETEs have provided care to hundreds of thousands of people in the U.S. Southern Command area of responsibility.
In addition to medical care, the United States, in cooperation with the Government of the Dominican Republic, has coordinated for the completion of various engineering projects in Barahona Province. U.S. Army and Air Force engineers will construct two classroom buildings and three medical clinics.
Lt. Col. Chris Dziubek, commander of Task Force Larimar, the main support hub for U.S. personnel taking part in Beyond the Horizon-Dominican Republic, said much has already been accomplished since the engineer projects and MEDRETES began in April.
"All of our construction projects are on schedule or slightly ahead of schedule," said Dziubek. "We've treated a total of 6,653 people in the past 10 days (during MEDRETES)."
The reception from the local community thus far has been encouraging according to Dziubek.
"In a single word, 'positive,'" said Dziubek when asked to describe the feedback he has received from the locals. "They have shown a lot of gratitude."
Dziubek said partnering with other nations, especially personnel from the Dominican Republic, is a main key to success.
"I'm very thankful to them for all of the assistance they have given us," said Dziubek. "I could not have asked for anything better."
Army South has planned and conducted Beyond the Horizon exercises since 2008, in multiple countries, including the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Honduras and Panama. Each Beyond the Horizon typically involves and trains about 1,400 U.S. service members, and 150 host-nation personnel.