By Jon Micheal ConnorJuly 30, 2018
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- The Army's LOGCAP participation in Task Force Puerto Rico Recovery has been extended through Dec. 31, officials have announced. Previous plans called for final operations to end by Aug. 25.
The Logistics Civil Augmentation Program, better known as LOGCAP, began supporting U.S. Army North in Hurricane Maria relief efforts since last October. Hurricane Maria ravaged the island last September in what was billed as the worst recorded storm to hit the Caribbean island. LOGCAP personnel were the first U.S. responders in Puerto Rico.
Currently, LOGCAP is issuing and dispositioning basic ordering material and poles for electrical power restoration, as well as providing receipt and inventory support to the Army Corps of Engineers.
USACE is, in turn, assisting the Puerto Rico Electrical Power Authority with electrical grid restoration, said U.S. Army Sustainment Command employee Gilberto Ponce, who is deployed to Puerto Rico as a LOGCAP forward planner.
The USACE support mission began early November 2017 and was initially scheduled to end late March. However, due to delays on materials and equipment arriving the island, the mission has been extended various times.
"The latest direction was that mission completion [for LOGCAP personnel] was expected to finalize by July 25, 2018. However, since the hurricane season just began, FEMA and USACE decided to stay on island until the hurricane season ends in case another hurricane strikes the island," Ponce explained. "The [LOGCAP] mission now has shifted to warehouse and yard operations providing material redistribution, redeployment, return, retrograde and disposal operations."
Currently, other projects include:
-- Providing environmental stabilization to about 70 sites island-wide which require erosion control measures to stabilize soil and land from areas disturbed by electrical crews restoring power on the island.
-- Providing mobile redistribution teams that travel around the island as needed to provide inventory, accountability and movement to designated warehouses and laydown yards in support of USACE and PREPA.
-- Common-user land transportation operations that provide material and poles transportation movement from designated warehouses, laydown yards and Mobile Redistribution Team sites in support of USACE mission.
-- Power generation to USACE and contractor work sites in Ponce and Aguadilla sites.
"This is the first time that LOGCAP has provided emergency operations support to USACE and as such it has been a learning experience to all involved," Ponce said. "With USACE experiencing the capabilities of LOGCAP, personnel have elevated their positive LOGCAP experience to USACE headquarters, which in turn, has opened the door for more teaming in future disaster relief and emergency operations."
The LOGCAP team is comprised of one LOGCAP forward planner (Ponce) and one USACE administrative contracting officer, Staff Sgt. John Butts. Ponce provides project management guidance, support, and oversight, while the ACO provides contractual administration, direction and oversight.
Ponce said he constantly conducts site visits around the island to ensure LOGCAP support is provided within scope, and to keep lines of communication open between USACE and DynCorp, the LOGCAP performance contractor. Additionally, Ponce attends numerous planning and decision meetings between FEMA, USACE and PREPA to ensure they understand the LOGCAP program requirements and execution guidelines.
The end state of LOGCAP support is to assist USACE with inventory, visibility and distribution of basic ordering of material island-wide in support of power restoration, Ponce said.
"The Puerto Rican Army Reserve and National Guard units provide assistance to the government when activated for emergency and disaster relief efforts. If another hurricane strikes the island they will be activated once again," Ponce said. "In the meantime FEMA and USACE are providing assistance to the Puerto Rico."
Hurricane Maria, a Category 4 storm, struck Sept. 20,2017, causing catastrophic damage to infrastructure and the environment including mountains, waterfalls and the El Yunque tropical rainforest.
In this relief effort, LOGCAP deployed, constructed, and provided turnkey base camps and services to support Title 10, Title 32, and FEMA.
Title 10 outlines the role of active-duty armed forces in the U.S. Code. It provides the legal basis for the roles, missions and organization of each of the services, as well as the Defense Department. Title 32 outlines the role of the National Guard.
The initial team consisted of support contractors; two individuals from ASC's 404th Army Field Support Brigade; Soldiers and seven civilian logistics support officers from ASC's LOGCAP Support Brigade.
The 404th Army Field Support Brigade, headquartered at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, is one of seven AFSBs that report to ASC in support of its global missions. The LOGCAP Support Brigade, an Army Reserve unit headquartered at Rock Island Arsenal, Illinois, has a global mission and provides direct support to the LOGCAP Program Office. LOGCAP supports ASC's missions to integrate and synchronize the delivery of logistical capabilities and enablers at the operational and tactical points of need around the world.
The team then began installation of base camp equipment at Aguadilla Airfield. Eventually, the team provided camp services include billeting, food service, shower/latrine facilities, water, power generation and self-service laundry capabilities.
In doing so, LOGCAP provided a base camp to support 1,000 personnel at Aguadilla on the west coast, and another base camp to support 1,500 personnel at Roosevelt Roads on the east coast.