Foz do Iguazu, Brazil--Two New York Army National Guard leaders traveled to Brazil from May 1 to May 5, to lay the groundwork for New York National Guard participation in a Brazilian disaster response exercise being held in August 2023.
Capt. Stephanie Fernandez, a staff officer with the 53rd Troop Command, and 1st Sgt. Amanda Elred, the top enlisted leader for the 466th Medical Company, Area Support, took part in a logistics planning conference held in Foz do Iguazu, Brazil.
The 466th will send 15 Soldiers to work with Brazilian medical personnel during Operation Parana, planed for August 12-19.
The 53rd Troop Command will also send two Soldiers from the 138th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment to cover the training.
The New York Soldiers and Airmen have been conducting training with Brazilian military personnel since 2019 when Brazil and the New York National Guard initialed a State Partnership Program agreement.
This will be the first time American Soldiers have taken part in the Brazilian disaster response exercise.
Twenty countries are expected to participate in the exercise, according to Brazilian Army Lt. Col. Homem Nelson.
“It will be one of the largest humanitarian aid exercises in the southern hemisphere in 2023,” Nelson said.
Brazil’s army has extensive experience in health support during international operations, Nelson said.
Brazil sent aid to Haiti when that country was hit by an earthquake in 2010, he said. And the Brazilian military has experience conducting medical missions in some of Brazil’s isolated communities, he added.
“This opportunity to work together with another great army, the U.S. Army, represented by the New York Army National Guard, gives us the expectation of exchanging state-of-the-art knowledge and establishing friendships,” Nelson said.
“The fact that this operation is based in Brazil fills us with pride and will give us the opportunity to show the best of our land, our people, and our army,” he said.
The Queensbury, New York-based 466th Medical Company, deployed to Iraq in 2006 and to Kuwait in 2020, and has participated in State Partnership Program exchanges with the South African National Defence Force.
This will be their first training exchange with the Brazilian Army.
The Soldiers, Eldred said, are looking forward to the August training mission.
“Working with our partner country is an amazing opportunity to share ideas and knowledge and practice the art of medicine,” she said.
“We expect to find a vast number of similarities, but we hope to learn from the differences,” Eldred added.
The unit’s Soldiers will be prepared to deal with a variety of simulated injuries and illnesses that would come during the disaster itself, Eldred said. The Soldiers will also be prepared to deal with the health issues that happen with people are displaced by a disaster, she added.
These can include near-drowning, hypothermia, trauma, medical issues stemming from insect bites and contaminated water and food, Eldred added.
“We are very fortunate to be involved in a multi-national event. It's a great opportunity to work and train in a large-scale civil support operation,” she said.