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Drug war, disaster relief other reasons to fight
Tech. Sgt. Carlos Hurtado, telecommunications project manager with the 81st Training Support Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo)
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Drug war, disaster relief other reasons to fight

Posted 1/12/2011   Updated 1/12/2011 Email story   Print story


by Steve Hoffmann
81st Training Wing Public Affairs

1/12/2011 - KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- Where does your mind go when you think of being deployed to fight a war?

Probably someplace in Iraq -- sandy, windswept and barren -- or to the rocky crags of Afghanistan. But what if deployment meant warm, lush green, coastal landscapes?

This is Soto Cano Air Base in Honduras, where Tech. Sgt. Carlos Hurtado spent the better part of 2010 deployed.

Soto Cano is home to Joint Task Force-Bravo under United States Southern Command. JTF-Bravo's mission is to "support and conduct joint, combined and interagency operations in the joint operations area, to enhance regional cooperative security initiatives and to support democratic development."

"That was probably the most challenging aspect of my deployment," Sergeant Hurtado pointed out. "Working in a joint environment, dealing with and trying to understand the different ways other branches of the military do the same thing. As an Airman, I'm trained to do it one way. As project manager, trying to get everyone on board to work a project the Air Force way was challenging."

Sergeant Hurtado is a telecommunications project manager with the 81st Training Support Squadron. He's been in the Air Force for 19 years and stationed at Keesler for four.

During his deployment to Honduras, Sergeant Hurtado was responsible for overseeing and facilitating the implementation of reliable communication systems in support of JTF-Bravo's mission. Establishing and maintaining reliable communications systems is vital to performing one of the most critical aspects of JTF-Bravo's mission -- counterdrug operations.

"Honduras is a central hub for drug traffic," Sergeant Hurtado explained. "So ensuring that field operatives have reliable communications in their efforts to intercept and disrupt that trade is important."

Sergeant Hurtado understood the language of the locals and was able to get them involved working on different installations.

"I was able to explain to them what needed to be done and how to do it," he said.

"This has been the most memorable and satisfying aspect of my deployment -- living for a time in a third world country and learning the culture of the locals and how they live."

Disaster relief is another major component of JTFBravo's mission.
"Advanced, reliable communication systems become all that more important when responding to natural disasters, performing search and rescue missions and dropping supplies," Sergeant Hurtado explained. "I am very proud of the work we are doing down there."

"It's good for people to know that not everyone who gets deployed goes to Iraq and Afghanistan," said Lt. Col. Janet Pattison, 81 TRSS commander. "Many of our Airmen are doing vital work and serving in places other than the obvious, like Honduras."

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