Task Force Montagua Essay

This essay has a total of 1653 words and 7 pages.

Task Force Montagua



James E Hogan
Ms. Petersen
English 280
Task Force Montagua: New Horizons II


"And that's when my consciousness was born"
-Rigoberta Menchu'

In the early part of 1999 Guatemala was hit with both a hurricane and an earthquake. The
United States government agreed to activate troops to be sent to Guatemala and several of
its neighbors. My unit, being Military Police, was sent to provide force protection for
all American service members working in and around Guatemala. I will provide some
information on Guatemala and then provide a detailed account of my mission, Task Force
Montagua: New Horizons II.

The country of Guatemala is mostly mountains with narrow coastal plains and rolling
limestone plateau's (AOL. online). The climate is tropical; hot, humid in lowlands;
cooler in the highlands (AOL. online). During my trip the temperatures ranged from
ninety to one hundred fourteen degrees in Puerto Barrios. Guatemala's land is mostly
forests and woodland, 54% (AOL. online). The rest of the country's land is used for the
production of coffee, sugar, and bananas which are Guatemala's key exports.

The people of Guatemala are a very diverse group. There are three different religions
practiced in Guatemala, Roman Catholic, Protestant, and traditional Mayan. Burgos-Debray
states that there are twenty-two indigenous ethnic groups in Guatemala, twenty-three
including the Mestizos, or Ladinos (pg1). The indigenous people of Guatemala are the of
the Mayan Indian descent. The Ladinos are Spanish speaking and of Spanish descent from
the days when this area was controlled by Spain. Ladinos make up approximately 56% of the
population and the Indian peoples make up approximately 44% of the population(AOL.
online). Also there are many different languages spoke in Guatemala. Most of the
population (60%) speaks Spanish but the rest of the population speaks one of twenty-three
different Mayan dialects.

Guatemala is a very young democracy. In 1996, the voters of Guatemala elected Alvaro Arzu
Irigoyen president (World Book. 1998). Before this election Guatemala had been involved
in thirty-six years of bloody and ultra-violent civil war. To put the war in simple terms
the indigeous Mayan people of Guatemala were fighting for the right to control their land
in order to have enough food to feed their children. Before the civil war started close
to one out of three Indian children died of starvation. The current death rate is at
approximately 6.96 deaths/1,000 population every year (AOL. online). The civil war saw
many Indian peoples tortured, raped and murdered. The leader of the Indian freedom
fighters was Rigoberta Menchu', who in 1992 won the Nobel peace prize (World Book. 1998).

My trip started at Fort Dix, New Jersey. At Dix we did what is referred to as the palming
process. This is where we make sure all our paper work, will, power of attorney, and
life insurance, is in order. Part two of the process is where we get roughly eight to ten
injections to prevent illness over seas. The whole process is concluded with a few
briefings. Our briefings consisted of tactical lay out of our destination, enemy threat,
and rules of engagement. Rules of engagement means when, where and under what
circumstances we can use force, basically the rules of war. Next we took the five minute
ride to Maguire Air Force base which was where we caught a flight to Guatemala city. Upon
reaching Guatemala city we received our in country brief which was basically all the
things not to do while you were in country. From there we immediately reboarded our
flight and flew to our area of operations, Puerto Barrios.

My unit, the 814th mp co, had its central area of operations in the port city of Puerto
Barrios (included is a map of the area where we ran our operations courtesy of Yahoo.com).
Puerto Barrios is the central and busiest port in Guatemala, and it is also where all US
equipment hit the ground at. At the port is where our first missions began to take place.

As previously stated our primary mission was force protection, which includes providing
security for American troops as well as equipment. At the port when our vehicles and
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