SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (Lt. Nawrocki)- Green Berets assigned to 20th Special Forces Group (Airborne), in support of Special Operations Command South, trained with Dominican Republic Special Operations Forces (SOF) as part of a month-long Joint Combined Exchange Training program (JCET) focusing on medical skills, marksmanship, and airborne operations from Feb. 17 to March 20.
JCETs allow U.S. military personnel to improve their teaching skills and gain regional knowledge, and also serve as a great opportunity to learn from their Dominican counterparts. In addition, they permit U.S. SOF personnel to build foreign relations and gain military and cultural experiences.
“This JCET gave us a chance to train, and interact, with our Dominican partners,” said a 20th SFG (A) team leader. “We lived in their barracks, ate in their dining facility, and taught classes in their native language of Spanish, which provided an excellent training opportunity and built an enduring relationship.”
This JCET was centered on three areas; the first was medical training that focused on splinting, pressure dressing tourniquets, and causality transportation. The second was marksmanship training, which focused on more advanced skills like shooting on the move and engaging multiple targets. The month-long exchanged concluded with a combined airborne operation between the Dominican Republic and American SOF members, an event that has not taken place since 1994.
To help augment the Green Berets, members from the Puerto Rico Air National Guard (PRANG) and the 95th Civil Affairs Brigade (Airborne) also deployed to the Dominican Republic. The PRANG was responsible for all air transportation movements and the Civil Affairs members assisted in training the Dominicans for the combined airborne operation.
Because of the significance of the event, the newly appointed U. S. Ambassador to the Dominican Republic, James (Wally) Brewster, visited the drop zone and met with both U.S. and Dominican servicemembers.
“The importance of the jump and JCET is to continue to build the technical experience and relationships between both our special forces,” said Amb. Brewster.
Accompanying the Ambassador was Maj. Gen. Ramon M. Hernandez, the commanding general of the Dominican Air Force.
“We are privileged to share this experience with the U.S. military. Our purpose is to have both forces work together as a unit in order to always maintain stability in the region,” said Hernandez.
At the end of the month-long training exchange, a combined airborne operation was conducted where 72 Dominican and 22 American SOF personnel jumped 1,500 feet from an American C-130 airplane onto the San Isidro Air Field, located just outside of Santo Domingo.
During the JCET graduation ceremony, there was a wing exchange between the Dominican and American SOF members. Members that earned their jump wings were pinned by their SOF counterpart, this included both basic and jumpmaster wings. Special Operations Command South’s Deputy Commander, Air Force Col. John Poast, received his Dominican basic jump wings and was pinned by Dominican Maj. Gen. Hernandez.
1st Lt. Luis Gomes-Diaz of the Dominican Republic said, “I would like to give thanks to the United States for all of the classes and the jump. We hope to continue to learn from our U.S. counterparts.”
In terms of deployment length, 32 days is relatively brief. However, the Green Berets and their Dominican Republic partners have established a new bond that may last for years to come.