FORT BUCHANAN, PR- Soldiers of all U.S. Army Reserve units in Puerto Rico participated of a Transformation ceremony, Dec 9, at Fort Buchanan, in what represents the beginning of the newly formed Army Reserve Caribbean Geographical Command.
"Up to this point, all Reserve Soldiers in Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico have honorably served the needs of the Nation, wearing different patches or insignias in our uniform sleeves," said Brig. Gen. Dustin A, Shultz, Commanding General of the 1st Mission Support Command, U.S. Army Reserve-Puerto Rico.
Even when the 1st Mission Support Command is the largest federal U.S. Army command in the region, there were several units that reported directly to their functional headquarters in the Continental United States.
Now all units will wear the Garita patch, the same emblem that the glorious 65th Infantry Regiment used during the Korean War.
"There is no doubt that the respective functional commands that had the command and control of the five units that we are gaining today, have done a superb job in maintaining their readiness and accomplishing every mission. I am looking forward to keep our close ties with those organizations. I know that working together, we will excel in every mission," added Shultz.
The senior federal Army officer in the region, went on to describe how all Army units in the island worked together in the aftermath of hurricanes Irma and Maria.
"We all worked together during the emergency created by the storms last year, and you all performed superbly. Now under the Garita patch, we all together as one Army Reserve family, as one team, will remain vigilant and ready to continuously perform our mission around the world," added Shultz.
The Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico in Congress, Jennifer Gonzalez, was also present in this historic ceremony.
"Having all Reserve units under one command is a good thing that benefits everyone," said Gonzalez shortly after the event, while highlighting the economic impact to the island.
According to recent estimates, the Army Reserve invests approximately 285 million dollars in Puerto Rico a year.
Meanwhile, to the newly assigned units' leadership, the transformation represents more opportunities.
"This ceremony represents that we are one team. We can now focus our efforts to train units in this region for mobilization around the globe and for validation purposes," said Lt. Col. Walter J. Watts, Commander of the 2nd Battalion, 348th Regiment of Training Support.
"We are very proud of being part of the 1st Mission Support Command, as one geographical command, and we are looking forward to good things to come," added Watts.
"This change will also provide our Soldiers more opportunities to attend schools, get professional development and to overall get better," said Command Sgt. Maj. Jose A. Martinez, Command Sgt. Maj. of the 2nd Battalion, 348th Regiment.
The transformation prompted the need to create a third provisional brigade element under the 1st Mission Support Command, to provide command and control to the 1st Battalion, 333rd Regiment, Multifunctional Training Battalion, the 2nd Battalion, 348 Regiment, 1st Battalion, 389th Regiment, the 402nd Civil Affairs Battalion and the 49th Multifunctional Medical Battalion.
The Army Reserve in Puerto Rico has thousands of citizen Soldiers with highly technical, specialized and professional skills in logistics, transportation, training, engineering, information technology, communication networking, law enforcement, training and civil affairs, among others.