US, Jamaican soldiers go Beyond the Horizon - Join forces in humanitarian battle to benefit thousands of locals

Published: Wednesday | March 25, 2009

Tyrone Reid, Staff Reporter

Thousands of Jamaicans will benefit greatly from the humanitarian efforts of soldiers from the United States (US) military and the Jamaica Defence Force who have joined forces in an operation that is not shocking, but still awesome.

Almost 200 US soldiers have been deployed for the mission that will be accomplished without a single shot being fired or a bomb detonated.

The exercise will include the staging of health fairs as well as construction and renovation jobs at health facilities and schools in selected parishes.

Cost of battle

The expansive humanitarian battle will cost approximately US$720,000 (J$63.4 million) and is expected to be over in the next two months. The US Army Southern Command is funding the entire project.

The operation, called Beyond the Horizon, will also involve the Ministry of Health and other government agencies.

A release from the US Embassy stated that the collaboration is geared towards promoting "cooperation between the governments of the United States and Jamaica".

The initiative started earlier this month when US military engineers and the members of the nation's army broke ground on the construction of a new facility at the Portmore Health Clinic in St Catherine.

Joint exercise

Lieutenant Loneshia Reed, public affairs officer for Beyond the Horizon Partnership for the Americas Collaborating and Coordi-nating Element (PACCE), told The Gleaner the humanitarian effort was a joint exercise that pulls members from the different forces of the US military, such as the army, the navy, the air force and the marine corps.

"It's definitely a pleasure for us to come down here and work hand in hand in Jamaica and we definitely look forward to many more exercises like this," she said.

Reed said the people in the different communities have greeted them with warmth. "We have been received very well. All the people are happy to see us. We are providing free services and the people of the community are really happy to see us come here and provide these services and they are really excited about it," she said.

The team will be in Jamaica until June 6.

The US team is tackling multiple projects simultaneously to complete its assignment in the stipulated time.

Building new clinic in Portmore, St Catherine

Engineers from the US Army are renovating the Yallahs Health Centre in St Thomas

A medical fair will be conducted next week at the Yallahs High School

A medical fair will be held in the Montego Bay area - hosted by the US Air Force, and another will be held in the Moneague area, hosted by the US Army.