Detailed planning is currently underway for the Comfort to visit Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Haiti, and Honduras. During these mission stops, Continuing Promise medical teams will focus on working alongside partner nation medical personnel to provide care on board and at land-based medical sites to increase medical readiness, strengthen partnerships, and enhance the combined capabilities of the U.S. Navy and partner nations to respond to public health disasters and humanitarian crises.
“No mission better demonstrates our enduring commitment to the region as we work collaboratively with likeminded nations to ensure a secure, free, and prosperous hemisphere,” said Rear Adm. Jim Aiken, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet. “Today, more than ever, our fates are inextricably linked in the Western Hemisphere. Continuing Promise provides valuable training for U.S. and partner nation personnel to learn from each other and to work side by side to improve the medical readiness of our neighborhood while also collectively being prepared to meet regional challenges.”
The Continuing Promise 2022 main planning conference (MPC) took place in Jacksonville, Fla., July 6-7, 2022, and included more than 100 participants from across the U.S. armed forces, Department of State, non-governmental organizations, and partner nation military members. The conference allowed participants to discuss details of the mission including medical planning, training, logistics, and security for the ship and personnel while in host nation ports.
Capt. Bryan Carmichael, commodore of Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 4 will serve as mission commander for Continuing Promise 2022.
“I look forward to getting out there on Comfort and doing great things for America and our partners in the U.S. Southern Command area of responsibility,” said Carmichael. “The mission helps show those who live in this part of the world they can turn to the United States for help whenever needed. Medical services is a big part of this mission but we are also building relationships with these countries and their people that will have lasting impacts.”
The Continuing Promise mission will include providing direct medical care and expeditionary veterinary care, conducting training and subject matter expert exchanges on various medical and humanitarian assistance/disaster relief topics, and leading seminars on Women, Peace, and Security (WPS).
WPS is a United Nations initiative that started with UNSCR 1325 signed in 2000. It was a public acknowledgement that women are more adversely impacted by conflict and crisis, and that including women in security planning will lead to a more peaceful world. The Department of Defense (DoD) signed the WPS Implementation Plan in 2020. It outlines defense objectives and goals that the DoD will strive to achieve in order to move the bar toward full WPS implementation. USSOUTHCOM and USNAVSO/4th Fleet are dedicated to WPS and the promotion of gendered perspectives.
Continuing Promise 2022 marks the twelfth mission to the region since 2007 and the seventh mission involving USNS Comfort. The mission will also foster goodwill, strengthen existing partnerships with partner nations, and encourage the establishment of new partnerships among countries, non-government organizations, and international organizations.
“We are incredibly excited by the opportunities presented by Continuing Promise 22,” said Capt. Bradford Smith, USNAVSO/U.S. 4th Fleet Surgeon. “In addition to providing world class care to those in need, we are looking forward to strengthening relationships with our partner nations through subject matter expert exchanges as well as humanitarian relief and disaster exercises to build capacity and resilience during times of crisis.”
A U.S. Navy hospital ship has the capacity to provide afloat, mobile, acute surgical medical facilities to the U.S. military and partners. The medical and dental capabilities provided during this deployment will assist communities with a wide range of health services including general adult care, pediatric care, dental treatment, and optometry. Additionally, limited surgical procedures will be offered in coordination with partner personnel.
The final planning conference will take place in September, which will finalize details of the mission. Additional details on the upcoming deployment will be released at a later date.
U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet supports U.S. Southern Command’s joint and combined military operations by employing maritime forces in cooperative maritime security operations to maintain access, enhance interoperability, and build enduring partnerships in order to enhance regional security and promote peace, stability and prosperity in the Caribbean, Central and South American region.