Joint Security Unit Guards the Force in Honduras
By Pfc. Chrishaun Peeler
Special to American Forces Press Service
SOTO CANO AIR BASE, Honduras, Jan. 14, 1999 The 53 airmen and soldiers of the Joint Task Force–Bravo Joint Security Force here have one of the most important jobs of all -- keeping U.S. personnel and their equipment safe and secure.
"The Air Force and the Army both bring strengths to the table. We blend those strengths together to learn from each other," said Air Force Maj. Brady Reitz, security force commander. "We're working together to accomplish a common goal." Airmen serve a one-year assignment while soldiers of the 66th Military Police Company, Fort Lewis, Wash., serve six-month rotations.
"Even though we have our way of operating and the Army has its way, we're all policemen. We may not do everything the same, but we're flexible. We adapt and overcome," said Air Force Staff Sgt. Hermel Monterio, noncommissioned officer- in-charge of physical security. "It all works out. Everybody gets a taste of what the other one is doing. That helps the airmen and soldiers gain more respect for each other."
"It's critical that we get along, or it wouldn't work," Reitz said. "We have to be a team. We integrate the shifts and do everything possible to work together."
Since Hurricane Mitch, JSF has had to increase its operations tempo. First of all, the air base population today is four times its normal size. The force patrols the base, guards the flight line, performs escort duties throughout Honduras and secures forward bases. It also provided security during visits by Hillary Clinton, Tipper Gore and Army Secretary Louis Caldera.
"When Mitch hit, everybody kicked in," said executive officer Army 1st Lt. William Poole. "They're getting up every morning and doing real-world missions, seeing results each time. We're helping doctors, vets and anybody else who needs it. A lot of the airmen and soldiers went on relief missions, and it gave everybody a sense of pride, because we were helping to rebuild the country and making an impact."
"Besides guarding the soldiers, vehicles and supplies, I helped with the work. I did anything I could to help out, from spraying bugs to carrying water," said Army MP Pfc. Broderick Kimble. "I want to help out anyway I can. I feel pretty good about myself because I'm actually going out there and helping to make a difference."
The Joint Security Force has been joined by Marine and Navy law enforcement officers, which Poole said has been a big help. "They're going around to the living areas and clubs to make sure everything stays cool. They're doing a great job," he said.
All the Americans are working with Honduran security forces as well. "Even though there might be a language barrier, we're still learning from each other," Reitz said. "We have joint patrols every day -- Air Force, Army and Honduran."
"I like working with the Hondurans. We help each other out, and it's almost like working with another U.S. service member," Kimble said. "We're doing the same job, but just a little different. They have their rules and I have mine, but we're accomplishing the same mission."
"Everybody's come together to help make this relief mission a success," Poole said. "No one service could have done it alone."
[Pfc. Chrishaun Peeler of the 49th Public Affairs Detachment (Airborne), Fort Bragg, N.C., is assigned to the U.S. military relief effort in Honduras.]