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Covid-19: SPMAGTF-SC still preparing for Central American deployment

US Marines and sailors are continuing to train and prepare for their upcoming deployment with a Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force-Southern Command [SPMAGTF-SC] across Central America despite the ongoing global pandemic.

As of 21 May, about 300 US troops were still set to deploy south to work alongside allies and partners during the hurricane season, roughly June through November, according to Captain Jose Negrete, the public affairs director of US Marine Corps (USMC) Forces, South.

“In terms of what countries they deploy to and what partner nations join us, that is going to be situation dependent and will vary country by country,” he told Janes. “As you know, the situation is very fluid, and we continue to monitor it closely as it evolves for any adjustments we may have to make.”

As the command finalises deployment plans, SPMAGTF-SC Marines and sailors have continued training, which has been “assessed and adjusted” to align with Department of Defense, senior leaders, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, Capt Negrete added.

For example, service members wear cloth face coverings when they are unable to maintain 6 ft of distance from people in public areas and work centres during certification exercises, according to an 8 May press release. The medical team’s navy corpsmen also held a ‘sick-call’ every morning to screen service members for Covid-19.

Over the past several years, the SPMAGTF-SC deployment has become an annual event with troops sent to Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras for military-to-military training events, to assist with community projects, and help with potential disaster relief efforts, such as in 2018 when the Fuego volcano erupted outside of Guatemala’s capital.

US Marines participate in the 21 June 2019 SPMAGTF-SC opening ceremony at Soto Cano Air Base outside of Comayagua, Honduras.

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