New Mexico Guard Builds Relationship in Costa Rica
American Forces Press Service
SAN JOSE, Costa Rica, April 24, 2009 The New Mexico National Guard transported several Costa Rican dignitaries, including the vice minister of public security and the U.S. ambassador to Costa Rica, via UH-60A Black Hawk helicopter yesterday so they could observe the progress of exercise Fuerzas Aliadas Humanitarias 2009.
Residents of the remote town of Silencio, Costa Rica, enjoyed a day of health care services administered by the New Mexico Army National Guard Medical Detachment and Air Force South after the unit landed a Black Hawk on the local soccer field. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Anna Doo
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
The exercise is designed to test and improve regional and national disaster response capabilities within Central America and the Caribbean Basin.
New Mexico National Guardsmen are heavily involved in the exercise, performing search-and-rescue rehearsal missions, exchanging disaster response techniques and procedures with Costa Rican emergency officials, performing remote-location medical treatment and interacting with residents all over the country.
In an interagency meeting to assess the simulated disaster in Costa Rica, Coast Guard Cmdr. Mark Camacho, the military group advisor for the U.S. ambassador, said this is the first time the National Guard's State Partnership Program has been used in a disaster relief exercise in a foreign country. It also is the first time helicopter assets have been transported and used in a state partnership country.
The military group has been working on putting the exercise together for more than a year.
"It's very exciting to see this realized," Camacho said. "We are really pleased with everything that's going on."
The State Partnership Program is a national diplomatic program that links the National Guard with foreign nations to promote regional security, peacekeeping and humanitarian operations, counterdrug operations, and to promote open trade markets. It is instrumental in building worldwide stability by nurturing collaborative relationships with foreign countries around the globe, officials said.
(From a New Mexico National Guard news release.)