USNORTHCOM donates protective gear to Mexico

By Staff Sgt. Thomas J. Doscher NORAD AND USNORTHCOM Public Affairs

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. - U.S. Northern Command, working with the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, delivered 150,000 sets of personal protection ensembles to Mexico Aug. 3.

The shipment follows a previous delivery of 15,000 sets of PPE to the Mexican government in Juarez, Mexico, July 20.

The delivery was part of a special humanitarian assistance program managed in USNORTHCOM's Interagency Coordination Directorate designed to help other nations develop and improve their ability to respond to catastrophic events such as pandemic outbreaks, chemical spills and natural disasters.

The delivery, valued at approximately $54,000, provide light, head-to-toe protection and include gloves and masks. Suits USNORTHCOM previously donated were used by Mexican officials during the H1N1 flu pandemic in April 2009, said Susan Reinert, U.S. Department of State representative to the Joint Interagency Cooperation Group.

"They're basically intended for light protection," she explained. "They're good for when you're cleaning up after a flood, and they were effective during the H1N1 response."

Reinert said providing the suits benefits not only the people of Mexico, but the U.S. as well.

"It increases the Mexicans' level of preparedness," Reinert said. "And by increasing their level of preparedness, we reduce the possibility of them needing to ask for our assistance. By them already having the equipment there in hand, it gives them an ability to immediately respond that we couldn’t provide."

In the end, Reinert said, it comes down to building friendships.

"It's part of the overall program that allows us to build good relationships with the Government of Mexico, including the military," she said. "It's something that's a relatively low-cost, high-payoff for us in terms of the good will it engenders and allows us to more easily cooperate in other areas that may not be as quite as easy."

USNORTHCOM has completed seven humanitarian assistance projects in Mexico and The Bahamas since the program started in 2007 with more than 30 others currently being planned.