U.S. Marine General John Kelly, Commander of U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), concluded a two-day visit to Suriname on November 6 by visiting several Surinamese military installations and transferring a donation of 1,000 personal protective suits to the National Coordination Center for Disaster Response (NCCR). The Commander’s visit highlights the ongoing cooperation and friendship between the armed forces of the United States and Suriname, particularly in the area of disaster preparedness.
While in Suriname, General Kelly met with the Ministers of Defense, Foreign Affairs, and Health, as well as National Security Director Melvin Linscheer and NCCR Director Jerry Slijngard to discuss humanitarian assistance efforts and the bilateral security partnership. General Kelly observed several training demonstrations and viewed equipment and disaster response supplies donated by SOUTHCOM during his visits to Boxel Naval Base, Concordia Army Base, and Ayoko Kazerne.
While at Concordia Army Base, General Kelly transferred a donation of 1,000 personal protective equipment suits to bolster Suriname’s efforts to prepare for a possible outbreak of Ebola or other infectious disease. The WHO- and PAHO-approved suits are identical to those currently being used to combat the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa. Training in the proper use of the suits will be conducted in the near future in conjunction with a Subject Matter Expert Exchange (SMEE) with the South Dakota National Guard.
“SOUTHCOM is committed to working with partners who share our commitment to peace, security, and stability in the Americas,” General Kelly said. “This visit has afforded me an opportunity to hear the viewpoints, concerns, interests and ideas of our partners in Suriname, discuss our bilateral partnership, and explore opportunities for continued security cooperation.”
The United States spends about $225,000 annually in Suriname on International Military Education and Training (IMET) and has trained 29 members of Suriname’s Armed Forces over the last three years. The State Partnership Program provides additional training opportunities for Surinamese forces through SMEEs and joint exercises with the South Dakota National Guard as well as with SOUTHCOM. Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Defense donated $250,000 worth of disaster response supplies to Suriname.