Institute confers diplomas to 38 students from three courses.
Distinguished Honor graduate
Colombian Marine Corporal Diego Arias was recognized as the Distinguished Honor Graduate from the Operational tactics for Hemispheric Security course. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army Photo by SGT Vladimir Varlack) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT BENNING, GA – On April 22, thirty-eight representatives from the countries of Colombia, Costa Rica and Panamá were presented their respective diplomas here at WHINSEC.

The students completed one of the following courses: the Joint Disaster Response Techniques (JDRT); the Operational Tactics for Hemispheric Security (OTHS); the Inter Agency Crisis Action Planning (IACAP). The courses varied in length from five weeks to nine weeks in length. All three courses are geared towards public safety and post-crisis management and assistance.

“For this iteration, the JDRT and the OTHS were updated following recommendations and feedback from the students and our partners in the region,” said MAJ Julio Rivera, director for the School of Leadership and Tactics.

The Joint Disaster Response Techniques (JDRT) course enhances student’s skills, knowledge and techniques to perform breaching operations, urban search & rescue, and pre & post disaster structural assessments in a humanitarian assistance framework. It integrates military, law enforcement, and civilian emergency personnel in a joint, interagency and multinational environment. It also provides its graduates the opportunity to learn about the US Government Humanitarian Assistance Agencies and their roles in an international disaster response scenario.

Course director, Brazilian Marine Lt. Cmdr. David P. Manhaes, guest instructor from Brazil comments, “ The previous JDRT course was more focused on land mines removal and other combat engineer services. With their feedback, we were able to reorient the course towards urban search and rescue, with a humanitarian assistance mindset.”

The Operational Tactics for Hemispheric Security (OTHS) course integrates military and law enforcement personnel in a joint, interagency and multinational environment. The course provides comprehensive and specialized training as a small team in operational procedures, field tactics, field medicine fundamentals and advanced weapons marksmanship. All training events are integrated into a human rights framework in order to prepare its graduates to counteract transnational illicit threats and destabilizing agents in the Western Hemisphere.

“The OTHS resembles a lot like its predecessor, the Countering Transnational Threats (CTT) course. The main difference lie son more Joint Interagency Interoperability and Multinational (JIIM) hours of seminars. Now students are exposed to larger variety of agencies (US and foreign) that cooperate against international crime organizations,” added Manhaes.

After a hiatus due to the pandemic, the IACAP was conducted in person at the Institute.

“It was great to be able to conduct a course on campus once again, said MAJ Assad A. Raza, course director. The academic requirements are the same as the virtual version we have been conducting, but nothing replaces the person to person dynamics when you have a group of students here,” Raza added.

The Inter Agency Crisis Action Planning (IACAP) course prepares law enforcement personnel in individual tasks associated with the skills and knowledge to function as advisers or planners in crisis management during military operations or initial response activities in collaboration with agencies and the community.

COL Thomas Hough, 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade Commander, was the guest speaker at the graduation.

“If we ever needed a reminder that with must work together, this past year has been that reminder. With the number of natural disasters occurring on our region and the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of challenges is always increasing. The combined effects of these events, results in instability on our nations, on our region of the world. None of us is immune to those threats, and in the future, we are going to need each other. That is I am so very glad that you are here today, attending these courses, that will enable that partnership as citizens of the Americas.
Your professionalism over the past few months, mastering the principals of joint disaster response; learning the tactics of hemispheric security; and understanding interagency crisis action planning, are critical skills.
You are your nations very best; that is why they selected you to be here, and it is our privilege to work with each and everyone of you,” remarked Hough.

Following successful completion of all out-processing and safety requirements, students began to return to their home countries on April 24.