LIMA, PERU- Brig. Gen. Dustin A. Shultz, Commanding General of the 1st Mission Support Command, and senior federal Army officer in the Caribbean, participated in the 20th Congress of the Pan American Association of Reserve Officers of the Armed Forces, 16-20 Oct., at Lima, Peru, along with Armed Forces officers from Chile, Colombia, Argentina, Canada, Peru and the United States.
During the presentation, Shultz described the role the Army Reserve played in the emergency created by Hurricanes Irma and Maria, last year in Puerto Rico, by providing logistical, engineering, medical and communications support.
"The U.S. Army Reserve in Puerto Rico mobilized approximately 2,000 thousands Soldiers as part of the Defense Support to Civil Authorities, providing critical capabilities already prepositioned in the region, without the need to wait for assistance to arrive from the Continental United States," said Shultz, shortly after presenting a video montage that showcased the different missions accomplished in the island.
After describing in detail the different aspects of the assistance that the Soldiers assigned to the largest federal U.S. Army Command in the Caribbean provided, Shultz explained how her command accomplished the different missions in a very complex environment.
"The 1st Mission Support Command was able to accomplish all these missions, working as part of the Joint Force Land Component Command led by Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan, while also supporting the needs of the nation in different countries around the globe, and in the middle of a heavy local political environment that required a clear and transparent public communication strategy," added Shultz.
For Brig. Gen. Moises Chavez, Commander of the Replacement and Mobilization Command of the Peruvian Army, the information shared by Shultz was invaluable.
"This brief is of much importance to us and for all the countries in the hemisphere, because we exchanged experiences of how our units can assist the local population during local disasters, especially in Peru, where last year we had flooding that affected many people," said Chavez.
Other officers from the participating countries had a favorable perception of Shultz' presentation.
"It was very interesting to see how the U.S. Army Reserve in Puerto Rico was able to help in a local disaster," said Lt. Omar Rivero, a Peruvian Army Reserve Officer.
"The exchange of these experiences is very good for Peru, as we learn all the different things that we could also do, if needed," added Rivero.
Capt. Ignacio Ortega, from the Chilean Marines, was surprised to see how the Army Reserve helped Puerto Rico, in the same way his unit helped Chile in recent years.
"In 2010 Chile experienced an earthquake and a Tsunami that devastated to our country. Shultz' presentation was very familiar to me, especially the part of how we can use our military capabilities to help the civilian population in times of extreme need," said Ortega.
"In Chile, we had the same experiences the Soldiers from Puerto Rico had. Without a doubt, in the same way that happened in the island, the people of Chile saw the Army as a helping hand that made the difference," added Ortega.
During the Congress, each country presented the capabilities of their Reserve components and the members asked questions to better understand the reality of the armed forces in the other nations in the hemisphere. However, for many participants the real benefit of the Congress was the professional relationships developed during the encounter.
"It is very interesting to see U.S. Army Soldiers who can speak Spanish and English in a professional way, which allows them to better connect with their Latin-American counterparts. We are very grateful for their presence in our country. We welcome them here with open arms," said Rivero.
The Pan American Association of Reserve Officers of the Armed Forces is a professional organization that promotes Reserve forces within democratic institutions in the Americas.
The 21st Congress is scheduled to take place at Colombia in 2019.