Continuing Promise 2015: A Commitment to Partnerships, Shared Interests, Security and Stability

By Capt. Sam Hancock
Mission Commander, Task Force 48 (CTF 48)/Commander, Destroyer Squadron 40

As we kick off the first Continuing Promise mission since 2011, it is important to understand all that Continuing Promise 2015 (CP-15) will encompass. CP-15 will focus on our commitment to unity, security and stability of our partnerships and shared interests with the people of Latin America and the Caribbean.

This joint endeavor  includes units from the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines supporting the medical, veterinary and engineering components aboard USNS Comfort (T-AH 20), providing the mobile, flexible, and rapidly responsive afloat capabilities that will enhance the overall mission.

A unique and specialized mission, CP-15 will focus on the efforts of the United States and our partner nations to improve our collective capacity with regards to medical, engineering, veterinary and humanitarian assistance activities.

COMFORT will conduct eleven mission stops in Latin American and Caribbean nations: returning to Belize, Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Jamaica, Nicaragua and Panama, and for the first time, visiting Dominica and Honduras.

CP-15 will enable our mission team to remain Forward, Engaged and Ready in support of Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. Fourth Fleet, Commander, U.S. Southern Command, U.S. national objectives and the U.S. Global Maritime Strategy.

The Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Comfort is en route to Kingston, Jamaica, for a Continuing Promise 2011 port visit. Continuing Promise is a five-month humanitarian assistance mission to nine countries in the Caribbean and Central and South America. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Courtney Richardson)

The Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Comfort is en route to Kingston, Jamaica, for a Continuing Promise 2011 port visit.

Forward Presence

The forward presence that CP-15 will demonstrate will enable the CP-15 mission team to react quickly, ensuring that the USNS COMFORT and its embarked medical and mission staff will have the ability and assets to serve as a quick reaction force in the event of a contingency; therefore Comfort and her embarked assets will have the ability to be where it matters, when it matters.

The primary focus throughout the mission will be treatment ashore. The medical, dental, veterinary and engineering teams will go ashore in each location to provide a variety of services, with multiple sites covering these specialties and established in each country visited.

At each medical site, several hundred people per day will receive medical and dental treatment. On a case-by-case basis, patients will receive medical or dental care on the ship, returning to shore once they are medically cleared. Veterinary and construction sites will also be established, providing veterinary care, subject matter expert exchange’s (SMEEs), building repairs, improvements, and construction projects, to name a few.

Currently, we expect to serve over 133,000 patients, performing over 1000 surgeries aboard USNS Comfort and over 800 subject matter expert exchange’s (SMEEs); these anticipated statistics are a combined total from the 11 countries planned during CP-15.

The forward presence that CP-15 demonstrates will be the central focal point in every mission stop conducted, including the joint civil-military operations, sites ashore and the wide range of specialties provided by members from government agencies, non-governmental organizations and multinational partner nations-where it matters, when it matters.

Personnel embarked aboard the Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Comfort prepare the ship for departure during Continuing Promise 2011. Comfort is temporarily leaving Haiti in anticipation of adverse weather as Hurricane Irene approaches the area. Continuing Promise is a five-month humanitarian assistance mission to the Caribbean, Central and South America. (Photo by: Staff Sgt. Alesia Goosic)

Personnel embarked aboard the Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Comfort prepare the ship for departure during Continuing Promise 2011.

Latin American and Caribbean Engagement

This mission will be a great opportunity to engage our partner nations and build upon the established relationships created in previous years. We will work together to increase our capabilities, training and readiness with our partner nations and their respective communities through the interactions and engagements planned during CP-15.

We intend to enhance our collective abilities to respond in support of foreign humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts in the region, in addition, preparing USNS COMFORT and its embarked CP-15 team members to serve as a quick reaction force if necessary.

The overall combined effort that each team member will contribute throughout the mission, provides an invaluable opportunity for all of us to learn from one another, while creating a tangible, positive impact on local communities furthermore improving the unity, security, and stability within the region.

The Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Comfort is anchored off the coast of Haiti to support Operation Unified Response. The U.S. Navy has 11 ships supporting the operation, with approximately 11,000 Sailors, Marines, and civilians providing humanitarian and medical aid to the country after it was struck by a 7.0 magnitude earthquake Jan. 12.

The Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Comfort is anchored off the coast of Haiti to support Operation Unified Response.

Being Ready

CP-15 provides a modern and capable mission team that delivers a deliberate, sustainable and transparent method to enhance the capabilities of this vital region.

We aim to improve our collective abilities, increasing interoperability amongst ourselves and our partners. Through the various engagements conducted and working together with each country, we will address a variety of medical, veterinary and engineering concerns and topics that are common to the region. This in turn will ultimately, allow for us to work alongside partner nations in the event of a joint response to a contingency within the region.

CP-15 will allow us to share best practices between subject matter experts, making available the most effective, economical treatments to regional medical, veterinary and engineering teams.

The modern and capable assets maintained aboard COMFORT’s Military Treatment Facility (MTF) are configured with specialized medical equipment and staffed by a multi-specialty medical team of uniformed and civilian health care providers. CP-15 will demonstrate the U.S. commitment to fostering cooperative partnerships, emphasizing the training, readiness, innovation and efficiency that the CP-15 mission team encompasses and executes.

To bring it all together, Continuing Promise 2015 will enable us to strengthen ties in support of our enduring partnerships with the people of Central America, South America and the Caribbean – a partnership that will enhance our shared values, interests and commitment to unity, security and stability within the region.

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Continuing Promise 2015: A Commitment to Partnerships, Shared Interests, Security and Stability