News: Joint Task Force Jaguar built for success
Story by Tech. Sgt. Mark Wyatt
SONSONATE, El Salvador – Joint Task Force Jaguar has been steadfast over the past several months in planning the execution of Beyond the Horizon-El Salvador, a humanitarian and civic assistance mission deploying military engineers and medical professionals here for training and providing humanitarian services.
Beyond the Horizon-El Salvador is a U.S. Southern Command-sponsored joint-foreign military interaction, humanitarian exercise which will occur from March 30 to June 22.
The purpose of BTH is to conduct civil-military operations, including humanitarian civic assistance and medical, dental and engineering support to partner nations throughout the Central and South America and Caribbean region.
Selecting members to participate on the task force was done with careful consideration.
“One of the options going forward with the BTH command cell was to break from traditional methods in selecting the task force,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Jason Speltz, Joint Task Force Jaguar command sergeant major. “It was the commander who chose not to just fill it with ‘hey who wants to go, who can go, who does someone want to give up for two weeks,’ it was a different thought process. There was specific attention paid to wanting to set the mission up for success, wanting to pick people to fill the key training roles on the duration staff to ensure it was successful.”
With an established partnership in place with El Salvador, New Hampshire’s leadership team was clear in accomplishing this mission with success.
“El Salvador is our partner nation, we have an enduring relationship between New Hampshire and El Salvador, so the adjutant general and Gen. Bennett [Brig. Gen. Craig Bennett, N.H. Army National Guard commander] made it very clear that this was of the utmost importance and we have a reputation to maintain,” said Lt. Col. Raymond Valas, Joint Task Force Jaguar commander.
Choosing the command cell was a lengthy one, but one believed to ensure success.
“Selecting a 40-member command cell was a difficult process that required selecting the best subject matter experts we had to represent New Hampshire,” continued Valas. “We started by printing a roster of everyone who had that applicable skill set. We then went through and determined who would be the most qualified person from the organization and got support from senior staff and commanders to access them to put together the best team possible.”
Among the many examples of early-success for the task force have been the clear goals set by soldiers and the commitment to ensuring they are met.
“My goal coming into this mission was to place myself in a new environment,” Said Capt. Daniel O’Brien, Joint Task Force Jaguar medical officer. “I wanted a new challenge and develop skills that would enable me to function at a high-level in that new environment.”
According to the task force’s senior enlisted member, early success isn’t an accident.
“Teams aren’t always built for success, but Joint Task Force Jaguar is,” concluded Speltz.
The exercise generally takes place in rural, underprivileged areas and is a major component of the U.S. military's regional engagement efforts and it affords a unique opportunity to train U.S. service members alongside partner nation personnel, while providing needed services to communities throughout the region.