NACO, Honduras (April 18, 2012) -- U.S. Army South and the Honduran military kicked off the Beyond the Horizon Honduras 2012 exercise April 16, in a ceremony at a remote forward operating base near Naco, Honduras.
Beyond the Horizon Honduras 2012 is an Army South exercise deploying military engineers and medical professionals to Honduras for training, while providing services to rural communities. Beyond the Horizon is part of U.S. Southern Command's annual humanitarian and civic assistance program.
Working closely with host nation forces and civilian organizations, Beyond the Horizon teams participate in a valuable training opportunity and provide medical, dental and engineering support.
"We are making steady, positive progress to partner with the Honduran military in order to help the people of Honduras. And I know we will benefit greatly from this exceptional training opportunity," said Lt. Col. Robert Jones, Partnership of the Americas Collaboration and Coordination Element, or PACCE, commander.
The PACCE, also known as Task Force Tropic, is the command and control element responsible for executing the Beyond the Horizon mission in Honduras. It is comprised primarily of Soldiers from the Missouri Army National Guard.
According to Jones, there will be a daily average of approximately 250 military personnel participating, totaling more than 1,000 overall.
During the Beyond the Horizon exercise several smaller events called medical readiness training exercises, known as MEDRETEs, take place, which consist of a team of military medical and dental professionals who, while providing medical services to people in need of treatment, gain valuable real-world training. Jones expects the MEDRETEs will be able to treat thousands of Hondurans during the Beyond the Horizon.
The Beyond the Horizon exercise also consists of engineering support where service members build or repair schools, clinics, roads and other vital facilities. During Beyond the Horizon Honduras, two schools will be built, one school renovated and two clinics constructed.
Maj. Gen. Simeon G. Trombitas, the commanding general of Army South, whose command is the coordinating authority for the overall planning and execution of the exercise, spoke at the opening ceremony.
"BTH is the kind of partnership that fosters the trust and interoperability that will sustain our friendship in the face of future adversity, whatever that adversity may be," said Trombitas.
The Beyond the Horizon Honduras opening ceremony included such dignitaries as Lisa Kubiske, the U.S. ambassador to Honduras; Maj. Gen. Rene Arnoldo Osorio Canales, the Honduran chairman of the joint staff; Marlon Pascua Cerrato, the Honduran secretary of national defense; as well as the Honduran service chiefs of the army, navy and air force.
"I am immensely proud of Task Force Tropic and the troops who will support this BTH," said Trombitas. "They have volunteered their own time away from family and civilian jobs to work with Honduran forces to provide assistance."
After the ceremony concluded and the dignitaries departed, the Task Force Tropic Soldiers broke ground on a new construction project, building the first school.