SOTO CANO AIR BASE, Honduras – Puerto Rico National Guard military police have provided security alongside their Honduran Armed Forces partners at Soto Cano Air Base for over 10 years, enabling Joint Task Force Bravo, the U.S. Army’s oldest joint task force, to foster security, stability and prosperity in Central and South America.
Each rotation includes a bilingual force of about 60 Puerto Rico Army National Guard military police. They spend around nine months in Honduras before a new group of PRARNG military police replaces them. The 225th Military Police Company Law Enforcement Detachment commander credits this boots-on-ground community connection as integral to mission success.
“Why the Puerto Rico National Guard? It’s not just a language; it’s culture. We can go outside and blend with people,” said 1st. Lt. Amadid Ortiz, the 225th MP commander. “It’s easy to achieve all the things that other personnel cannot. For us, it’s very easy to get information we need.”
Ortiz said this ability greatly helps in antiterrorism and force protection missions requiring information from outside the base.
The mission’s scope is complex; nearly every area of day-to-day operations requires Honduran interaction and collaboration. The 225th provides base force protection, law enforcement, airfield security, antiterrorism, humanitarian mission support, customs, and K-9 teams while partnering with Honduran forces and performing several other military police missions outside the base perimeter.
“When you liaise with the Hondurans, if you don’t know how to communicate with them, it’s going to be very difficult to complete your mission because you rely on each other,” Ortiz said.
The Puerto Rico National Guard and Honduran military have been partners under the Department of Defense National Guard Bureau State Partnership Program since 1998.
In addition to their roles in Honduras, the Puerto Rico Guard has provided security for 24 missions in Central and South America in the past seven months. Some of these locations included Belize, Costa Rica, Panama and El Salvador, where their cultural and security expertise was essential.
Beyond language and cultural advantages, National Guard military police also have civilian police officers in their ranks. That firsthand experience, coupled with other civilian first-responder positions such as emergency medical technicians, bolsters the skill and capability in nontraditional military settings, said 225th MP Company 1st Sgt. John Robinson.
But the experience exchange is not one-sided. The Soldiers gain the experience to do their job on active duty and perform their military police mission daily, increasing their proficiency, said Robinson.
“It helps build them up for the future for their career. It gives them that base knowledge of what it is they do as MPs,” he said. “It is how you fill out the reports, respond to alerts, and those things we don’t do on a drill weekend.”
Many of his Soldiers echo that sentiment, said Sgt. Edwin Heredia, a training NCO with the company. Heredia, serving his second tour in Honduras, is one of many PRARNG military police who have opted to return for multiple rotations.
“We get a lot out of this mission,” said Heredia. “A lot of Soldiers want to come back for another rotation to gain more experience.”