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New Horizons opening ceremony echoes spirit of friendship, cooperation

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Eric Petosky
  • New Horizons Panama 2010 Public Affairs
New Horizons Panama 2010 officially opened at Santa Librada Elementary School June 29th with a ceremony featuring senior leaders from the Panamanian Government as well as the United States.

The motto for this year's New Horizons exercise, an annual U.S. Southern Command humanitarian assistance mission, is, "Eagles Soaring Together for a Better Future," and the sentiment was echoed in remarks made by Panamanian and U.S. Military leaders before an audience of citizens from the Darien region.

"Our work and projects here in the Darien shed light on the strong ties between our two countries, especially the people-to-people ties," said Col. Darren Daniels, Task Force New Horizons commander. "While these efforts undoubtedly serve and benefit our Panamanian friends, our men and women of the armed forces also take away so much from this experience. We share a long history of mutual support and cooperation, and today with this New Horizons effort, we will further strengthen the relationship between Panama and the United States. I would like to thank the people of Panama and the Panamanian government for providing us this incredible opportunity."

Representing Panama were officials from the Ministry of Public Security, National Civil Protection System, Ministry of the Presidency, National Aero-naval Service, National Frontier Service, and the Governor's office of Darien. These government agencies have provided logistics, escort duty, and even medical support to the task force from the initial planning stages, and will continue to support the New Horizons mission until it ends in mid-September.

Representing the United States were Col. Jon Norman, 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) vice commander, and Colonel Daniels. There were also U.S. Embassy representatives, and even a total force formation of 20 Task Force New Horizons personnel standing alongside a 20-person formation from the National Civil Protection System. The exercise includes every service in the Department of Defense, as well as guard and reserve components.

"New Horizons is about working together;" Colonel Norman said, "working with our sister services, non-governmental organizations, partner nations and others to benefit the local community. We don't just build schools, wells, or roads. We also build lasting friendships and a better future for both our nations.

"New Horizons Panama is just the latest example of working together in a long history of friendship and cooperation between our two nations to enhance stability and security across our hemisphere," he continued. "But, the bonds between our two nations extend beyond a mutual commitment to regional peace and stability. We are inherently linked by cultural, historic, and economic ties. We are here to learn from each other as we share our cultures and ideas on a daily basis."

In total, four schools and two medical clinics will be improved by a force of U.S. Air Force and U.S. Army engineers during New Horizons Panama 2010. Additionally, five medical teams will deploy for two-week rotations in the towns of Chitre, Veraguas, and David to provide care in the fields of ophthalmology, ear-nose-throat surgery, and dentistry.

Since New Horizons started in the mid-1980's, Airmen and members of USSOUTHCOM have built schools and community centers, dug wells, provided medical care, and constructed clinics year after year at the request of numerous countries in the spirit of cooperation and friendship.

All these missions revolve around USSOUTHCOM's ongoing commitment to theater security cooperation, and are requested by the host nations. By sharing experiences, information, vital skills, tactics, and techniques, the United States continues to build enduring partnerships with nations in Central and South America, as well as the Caribbean.