JBSA-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas –
Natural disasters do not recognize borders nor do they respect the limitations of a region.
Disasters don’t care about a country’s economy or lack of resources. They just plow through and do what they do best – cause havoc, damage and destruction.
Since neighboring countries need to network together and have an emergency preparedness plan in place that supports each other in case of such a catastrophe, U.S. Army South co-hosted a humanitarian assistance/disaster relief workshop with the Trinidad and Tobago Defense Force in Port of Spain, Trinidad, Sept. 12-15.
“The intent was to get an understanding of everybody’s needs during a disaster; what shared interests we have, what we can work on together and mitigate for future disasters,” said Col. Daniel George, U.S. Army South director of engineering.
The event was organized to network the Caribbean Region countries and included several countries from Latin America. Though the two regions have their own resources, cultures and even language, both were able to provide and contribute mutually beneficial information.
“What this conference was successful at doing, was bringing the Caribbean and Latin America together,” said Lt. Col. Kester Weekes, Support and Service Battalion commander, Trinidad and Tobago Defense Force. “We can learn from each other because our topographies in the different countries give us separate challenges and we can draw on the experiences of the collective.”
The group of about 30 million members and civil service personnel each brought a level of expertise and knowledge from past involvements with numerous and terrorist attacks.
“Having all this expertise and watching them interact and share throughout the conference is absolutely fascinating,” said Lt. Col. Paul Snyder, Army South Civil Affairs deputy. “This has really expanded my knowledge of what can be done, and what they are willing to do here, and what really needs to be done in the next five, 10 or 15 years.”
Networking was a common theme replayed over and over during the engagement. Countries that have had the unfortunate circumstance of being more familiar than others, were able to share the struggles they’ve faced and the successes they’ve overcome.
“I was expecting nothing more than conversations, ‘this is what we’re doing, this is what we can do,’ however we have already had cases where other nations have offered to do joint training,” said George, lead engineer. “So, this has definitely exceeded my expectations, they are already walking away from here creating a plan for the future.”
The United States and Trinidad and Tobago are long-standing partners whose relationship is rooted in the shared values of democracy, human rights and cultural diversity.
The Army South Civil Affairs team appreciates the valued partnership and said they were honored to co-host the informative workshop.