SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic –
Phase two of U.S. Army South-led CENTAM Guardian 2023 (CG23) commenced with an opening ceremony May 22 at the Ministry of Defense with more than 390 military and USAID Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance from the United States, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and the Dominican Republic participating in the exercise.
CENTAM Guardian is an annual multinational exercise in support of U.S. Southern Command’s (SOUTHCOM) initiative to strengthen multinational and regional cooperation, trust and confidence by enhancing readiness and response to common regional contingencies through further developing information sharing, cooperation and interoperability with allied and partner nations.
“SOUTHCOM and Army South have a strong tradition of humanitarian assistance and disaster response, as demonstrated over the numerous hurricanes and earthquakes we have responded to,” said Brig. Gen Miguel Mendez, Army South deputy commanding general. “It is an honor and a privilege for SOUTHCOM and Army South to serve here with such a distinguished international body of trained and proficient disaster response coordinators from countries and organizations throughout the region as we build upon the partnerships between our countries.”
Mendez went on to say that CG23 builds on the lessons learned from previous years to enhance regional protection in the U.S. Southern Command area of responsibility with a focus on real-world threats and contingencies.
Phase one of CG23 concluded in March of this year in Guatemala with a focus on rapid response security operations, while phase two focuses on humanitarian aid and disaster response.
Lt. Gen Carlos Díaz Morfa, Dominican Republic minister of defense, described why exercises like this are vital to the region.
“CENTAM Guardian has a concept to strengthen the capabilities to plan, support and coordinate combined actions which contribute to the deployment of military resources and humanitarian assistance during a natural disaster,” Díaz Morfa said. “These exercises have great importance before the hurricane season because they increase our response capabilities.”
Participants include elements from the 321st Civil Affairs Brigade, 350th Civil Affairs Command, Puerto Rico National Guard, USAID Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance, U.S. Army South, and U.S. Southern Command.
Personnel involved in the exercise are conducting training on requesting assistance, coordinating emergency response and delivering aid during simulated natural disaster scenarios between May 22 and June 1 in various locations throughout the Dominican Republic.