LINDEN, Guyana -- The New Horizons exercise 2019 came to an end with a closing ceremony at the Blueberry Hill community center, August 22, 2019.
“Our teams aim to work side by side with our partner nation and forge lasting relationships that tie our two countries closer together in good will,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Andrew Croft, Twelfth Air Force (Air Forces Southern) commander. “Looking out at this crowd and the end result behind me, all of this combined with hard work, I’m certain you have succeeded here with this team in New Horizons 2019.”
Since the start of the exercise in May, the New Horizons team built three community centers and a women’s shelter, as well as participated in several medical outreach events in the local communities.
“In this exercise in Guyana, we have accomplished way more than we set out to do,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Kenneth Bratland, 346th Air Expeditionary Group commander. “Many of the reasons are, we just ended up with some great [service members] who were really motivated and worked really hard. We exceeded every single measure that we expected to get.”
A few of the milestones that the New Horizons team had set at the beginning of the exercise were surpassed by large numbers like patient encounters and building timelines.
“We operated on way more patients that we expected,” said Bratland. “We did more eye surgeries than we planned on doing. We did more women’s health surgeries than we had planned. We saw thousands of more patients at the [medical readiness training exercise] and with the buildings and construction efforts, we were able to complete them ahead of schedule.”
During the two months of medical outreach events, there were a total of 13,446 total patient encounters, which included animal treatments and vaccinations.
For the construction sites, the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Army engineers completed the four buildings three weeks ahead of schedule.
New Horizons exercise is not new to Guyana. In the last 20 years, U.S. service members have participated in the exercise under U.S. Southern Command and 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern Command), three times. The structures completed during previous iterations are still being used today.
“This is our third time being here. We were here in 2004, 2009 and 2019,” said Bratland. “The people here are familiar with New Horizons, they appreciate what we do, appreciate what we bring and they’re still using the facilities that we built a long time ago, so people see those and generations to come will see the buildings we built on this one and that makes me very proud.”