News: BDF, US partnerships built beyond medical, engineer missions
Story by Tech. Sgt. Kali Gradishar
PROGRESSO, Belize - Belize Defence Force and U.S. service members are working side-by-side in various fields during New Horizons Belize 2014.
While the main New Horizons mission involves civil engineer and medical readiness training amongst BDF, U.S. and Canadian members, there are also service members working behind the scenes being offered the same cooperative partnership opportunities.
"My job here is to integrate with the BDF and ensure the security of (medical readiness training exercise) sites, to include the safety and security of personnel, pharmaceuticals and medical equipment at all hours," said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Nick Ressler, New Horizons force protection.
Being afforded opportunities to coordinate with other nations provides an array of benefits, but can also present challenges for the members to overcome - a valid chance to provide training and lessons learned for both sides.
"During the first few days, we had a few challenges with getting the right amount of personnel. We needed more manpower, but we worked together to arrange for the right number of people," said BDF Staff Sgt. Orlando Navarette, permanent staff instructor for C Company, Volunteer Battalion.
Between Navarette's 18 years of BDF experience and Ressler's 12 years of Air Force experience, the two ensured the all-volunteer force was trained and well-prepared for providing such imperative security during the medical readiness training exercises, or MEDRETES.
Navarette is responsible for recruit training and welfare for the volunteers, ensuring they have everything they need to complete their missions and are well cared for while in the service. He is also the liaison between the BDF and U.S. force protection to ensure BDF service members are where they need to be when they need to be there.
"This experiences creates more friendships with our U.S. counterparts," Navarette said. "It creates a good scenario for us to have coordination and cooperation between two nations."
Ressler agreed building partnerships was significant factor for the success of the MEDRETES.
"For us, it's nice to have the local community involvement from local BDF members," Ressler said. "It makes facilitation for various things much easier and faster when you have two countries working together for one cause."
The New Horizons Belize 2014 exercise includes numerous MEDRETES throughout the country, during which U.S. and Belizean medical professionals will work hand-in-hand providing medical care to the Belizean people and learning from one another's medical practices. The exercise also includes construction on four school facilities and one medical facility throughout the country by BDF and U.S. military engineers.