Students in San Marcos Get New Schools due to U.S.-Guatemalan Disaster Response Exercise

REF# 2019-26
November 07, 2019

This week the United States Marine Corps’ Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force -Southern Command (SPMAGTF-SC), a rapid response force assigned to U.S. Southern Command, completed a five-month joint emergency response exercise.  Over 20 U.S. Marines and Sailors collaborated with the Guatemalan military and civilian authorities to practice how to build and refurbish infrastructure in the wake of a natural disaster.

During the exercise, SPMAGTF-SC and their Guatemalan counterparts refurbished four schools in the city of Ocos, in San Marcos department, where the schools are already benefitting hundreds of Guatemalan students and families.  The Governments of Guatemala and the U.S. jointly selected the projects and, in addition to the U.S. service members’ hours of work and logistical support costs, the United States donated over $100,000 of building material and other donations during the project.

In addition to the humanitarian assistance provided to the local Guatemalan community, SPMAGTF-SC also contributed to the modernization and professionalization of the Guatemalan Marine Corps with Security Cooperation Training Teams.  These teams assisted with updates to doctrine as well as the development of new courses of instruction.  In total, the SPMAGTF-SC and Guatemalan Marine Corps jointly developed three courses that will support the training of future Guatemalan Marines.

SPMAGTF-SC’s support to Guatemala was part of a region-wide effort that involved approximately 300 U.S. Marines and Sailors, who also worked in Colombia, Brazil, Belize, El Salvador, and Honduras. This deployment also served as another major step in creating a combined task force that will enhance disaster response in and around Latin America and the Caribbean, as multiple nations were part of the SPMAGTF-SC staff.

This was the fifth consecutive year SPMAGTF-SC has worked in the region. Notable achievements in the past include the delivery of almost 500,000 pounds of supplies to Haiti in the support of Hurricane Matthew in 2016, support to the Leeward Islands in response to Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017, and the construction of shelters with the Guatemalan Engineering Corps for the more than 4,000 Guatemalans displaced by the Fuego Volcano eruption in 2018.

SPMAGTF-SC is one of several U.S. Southern Command sponsored missions in the region that demonstrates the U.S.’s commitment to a cooperative, prosperous, and secure hemisphere that benefits all nations.

For pictures of SPMAGTF-SC in action click here.