SOTO CANO AIR BASE, Honduras — U.S. Army South Soldiers arrived here yesterday for a nine-day deployment exercise with more than 60 Soldiers to set up a contingency command post (CCP) in preparation for future forward operations in the U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) area of responsibility.
A CCP is a rapidly deployable headquarters capable of providing Joint Task Force support designed to plan and conduct small-scale contingency operations.
“Our standard operating procedure is to go forward with wheels up within 96 hours of the initial deployment notification and be operational within 48 hours of landing in the country,” said Maj. Sean Buchanan, Army South CCP operations officer. “Once operational, we will work with the United States Agency for International Development and the Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance to provide situational awareness for the commander.”
This exercise was designed to rehearse the transportation of Army South equipment and personnel as well as test their capability to rapidly deploy the CCP in support of emergent SOUTHCOM requirements.
Buchanan said he is pleased with his team's performance so far.
“We have a lot of Soldiers who are new to Army South and the CCP, so there was some learning and discovery yesterday during the setup of the main tent,” said Buchanan. “But everything is going very well so far and we are ahead of schedule.”
Army South Soldiers will test and establish communications with Army South headquarters and SOUTHCOM.
Staff Sgt. Patricia Kimbrough, CCP communications and signal non-commissioned officer in charge, said her Soldiers remain prepared for CCP deployments.
“We train on setting up our terminals and testing our signals and communications once a month,” said Kimbrough. “So this exercise is an opportunity to validate our operations and troubleshooting.”
Kimbrough’s team can set up signal terminals and establish communications within two hours of landing in the country.
Preparation for a deployment of the CCP is an ongoing process. The CCP is a response team that reacts to several categories of contingencies, such as humanitarian missions and natural disasters.
1st Sgt. Richard Sosa, of the CCP mayor cell responsible for logistics and unit readiness, was able to get the unit administratively prepared to support the exercise. Sosa said previous exercises and rehearsals assisted in the successful execution of this exercise.
Over the last several months, Army South has conducted level 1 and 2 deployment readiness exercises (DRE) and a staff exercises (STAFFEX) to enhance and hone in on readiness and maneuverability of mission essential assets.
“We have to be ready and engaged at all times to respond to any contingency operations in our area of operation,” said Sosa. “The level 1 and 2 DREs helped us identify Soldier readiness, and previous STAFFEX helped us create a battle rhythm on how to approach the sustainment and logistics piece of this exercise,” said Sosa.
One of the Army South CCP’s most high profile deployments was in support of Operation Unified Response as part of Joint Task Force-Haiti following the devastating magnitude 7.0 earthquake that destroyed vast areas of the capital and left over two million people homeless on Jan. 12, 2010.
The efforts of Joint Task Force-Haiti contributed immensely to international relief efforts in the largest disaster response mission in modern U.S. military history, earning U.S. Army South the Joint Meritorious Unit award.
Army South and their assigned units consistently work to increase skills, abilities, and readiness to operate as a cohesive Army Service Component Command team in support of U.S. Southern Command.