The 280-strong U.S. Marine special unit will primarily be based in Honduras, with others spread throughout Central America.
The U.S. Marines are set to deploy a 280-strong troop to Central America starting next week to train local security forces, especially in Honduras, U.S. Southern Command announced Tuesday.
The temporary deployment of the Special-Purpose Marine, Air, Ground Task Force will last a minimum of several months and will be primarily based at the Soto Cano airbase in Palmerola, Honduras, 60 miles north of the capital Tegucigalpa. The special unit is tasked with carrying out training for local security forces.
According to a U.S. Southern Command statement, the Marines special unit is “assigned to respond to and assist partners within the region in the event of a major disaster,” such as emergencies caused by adverse weather during hurricane season in the coming months.
The Marines will be deployed in phases, with the first troops hitting the ground in Central America the first week of June.
While about 180 of the 280-person troop with remain at the Soto Cano headquarters, the rest of the unit will be stationed throughout Central America in Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala, and elsewhere in Honduras for training purposes with local forces.
180 marines llegan a Honduras...vendrán a proteger el Estado de Derecho o La Dictadura ? pic.twitter.com/7LqAg57nv5— Mauricio Funes (@Mauricef63Funes) May 15, 2015
“180 Marines coming to Honduras...are they coming to protect the Rule of Law or the Dictatorship?”
Several hundred U.S. troops are stationed at Honduras' Palmerola airbase. In the 1980s, the base was used as a military outpost for U.S. counterinsurgency strategy in Central America. Now, the U.S. military uses Palmerola as a base for its war on drugs in the region.
Earlier this year, UNASUR Secretary-General Ernesto Samper called for the removal of all U.S. military bases in Latin America.
Last month, the regional bloc announced plans to open the first South American defense school as an altnertive to U.S. military training in the region.