GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba (Army News Service, Jan. 29, 2009) - Like an ocean's tide, a new wave of troops has arrived at Joint Task Force Guantanamo. Among the new faces is Brig. Gen. Rafael O'Ferrall, the new JTF deputy commander.

As the first general officer from the Puerto Rico Army National Guard supporting a joint forces mission of this caliber, O'Ferrall understands the importance of the mission and what it means to really know the job.

"I work with passion, dedication and enthusiasm," O'Ferrall said.

In Puerto Rico, O'Ferrall is the assistant adjutant general and deputy commanding general, supervising training, readiness, personnel and other areas for more than 8,000 citizen-soldiers and full-time members of the Puerto Rico National Guard. He remains in that position while deployed here.

"I [am] the deputy commander for the entire [JTF] operation, not just Puerto Rico," O'Ferrall said, explaining his preparation for the job. "It's been a long ride."

"When I first [learned] about the mission, I started reading the material that pertained to it. You have to prepare mentally," he said.

O'Ferrall explained his concept of management and the importance of "clearing the path" so [troops] can do their job in a relaxed and efficient manner, and accomplish the entire mission to the leadership's expectation.

"I work for them," O'Ferrall emphasized, "they don't work for me."

"It's a historical time," O'Ferrall continued. "Because of the situation with the economy, the war on terrorism and a lot of things happening in the U.S. and around the world, the expectations are big. Anything can happen; you have to be flexible and understand what is going on. What happened yesterday is not [necessarily] what's going to happen today. So you have to adapt and accept changes."

After a brief left-seat right-seat training period, O'Ferrall is enthusiastic about his mission.

"The [troops] from the 2008 rotation have done a tremendous job working over here," O'Ferrall said. "Now the challenge is to maintain that [momentum] and keep [everything] working the proper way so our mission can be accomplished successfully."

"We are here for a year," he added. "We will continue to sustain the mission in the same manner I know the mission will be accomplished."

(Army Staff Sgt. Emily J. Russell serves with the JTF Guantanamo Public Affairs Office.)