Nearly 650 soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen are preparing to take part in New Horizons Guyana, a U.S. Southern Command-sponsored annual exercise starting July 1.
It’s an operation slated to cost US$9 million and is scheduled to last 75 days. It includes two major construction projects , one school remodel and eight medical readiness training exercises in the vicinity of Georgetown.
“New Horizons is all about airmen working together with our joint partners, nongovernmental organizations and partner nations to benefit the community,” said Lt. Gen. Norman R. Seip, the 12th Air Force commander.
“This year, our team is working to build critical infrastructure, friendships and a better future for the people of Guyana,” Seip is quoted by SOUTHCOM as saying.
According to SOUTHCOM, all construction projects are slated for Georgetown, or in nearby suburbs, and will take place simultaneously during the fast-paced exercise.
The first is a new school house in Bel Air. The school will be used for teaching kindergarten-aged children. The US$230,000 structure ,is 30 feet by 60 feet, consisting of a main classroom, kitchen and bathrooms.
The second construction project is a new clinic in La Penitence. The US$350,000 clinic structure will be 30 feet by 90 feet and will consist of four examination rooms, an office, a waiting room and bathroom.
Since there is a shortage of doctors in the region, a “tele-medicine” capability is being added as well, allowing nurses in La Penitence to contact doctors in other areas via teleconference to receive diagnoses and prescription orders.
The third construction project, is a renovation of a school that was built during a previous New Horizons mission. Both schools will be receiving new playground equipment as well.
They will also be built upon a raised concrete slab to avoid flooding. The heavy-duty construction is designed to last much longer than traditional wooden structure.
The planning for the US$9 million exercise has taken 18 months to complete. To guarantee completion of all projects in the time allotted, Guyanese contractors have been hired to pour the concrete foundations early. By the time the first wave of personnel arrives, the concrete will have cured sufficiently enough to begin erecting the buildings.
Equipment and medical supplies are arriving by air and by sea. Task Force New Horizons members will bring approximately 40 percent of the equipment and building materials needed to complete all projects by September 15. The aggressive schedule has not been without challenges.
“Most of the units are guard and reserve, so we’re rotating about 100 people every two weeks,” said Chris Donovan, New Horizons Guyana lead planner at 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern).
“There are alot of challenges associated with five changeovers in such a short time. But, it’s the nature of the beast. There are so many details; you have to be out in front of a challenge before it affects the mission. You have to touch everything.”
New Horizons is just one of the missions conducted in Guyana this year. Operation Southern Partner, a military-to-military exchange program, starts May 31, and Continuing Promise 2009, a medical mission aboard the USNS Comfort medical ship has also visited the port in Georgetown.
All missions revolve around SOUTHCOM’s ongoing commitment to theater security co-operation, and are requested by the host nation.
By sharing experiences, information, vital skills, tactics, and techniques. The United States builds partnerships with nations in Central and South America, as well as the Caribbean, strengthening friendships in a co-operative environment, SOUTHCOM stated.
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