FORT BUCHANAN, PR- Approximately fifty Soldiers from the 166th Regional Support Group (RSG), U.S. Army Reserve-Puerto Rico, departed from the Luis Muñoz Marin International Airport, Jan 1, with Afghanistan as final destination.
For Staff Sgt. Angel Bernard, a Military Police, native of Aguas Buenas, Puerto Rico, this mobilization represents another opportunity to continue growing professionally.
"I love what I do. Ever since I was a kid, I always wanted to be a Soldier. I love serving my country," said Bernard, who has been mobilized two times before, one time to Afghanistan and one time to Cuba.
Bernard was accompanied by his parents, wife, and kids.
"I am at ease. We are a very strong family and we support him always," said Marielys Lopez, Bernard's wife.
"I am very proud of him. It is not easy, but it is possible," added Lopez.
It is important to note that this mobilization established a new precedent in terms of how the units from the Caribbean Geographical Command train, as they conducted most of the training without having to travel outside the island.
"This is a big achievement because this is the first brigade size element to deploy from Home Station with all their mobilization training complete, which significantly minimizes the amount of days spent at the mobilization platform in the Continental United States," said Maj. Kyle Ferrarini, 166th RSG Operations Officer.
This mission is very important for the largest federal U.S. Army command in the Caribbean because the Soldiers will be in charge of the logistical support at the most important NATO bases in the Afghanistan.
"We will be running the base operations in support of the NATO Resolute Support mission," added Ferrarini.
Brig. Gen. Dustin A. Shultz, the Army Reserve Geographical Command Commanding General, talked with the Soldiers at the airport, shortly before boarding the plane.
"Deploying in the first day of the year is a great sign. Last year was a year of recovery. 2019 is the year of creating legacies, and that is what you are doing today. You represent the best of us," said Shultz.
"By deploying today, you clearly showcase the high level of readiness of our command and the fact that we are ready to deploy anytime, anywhere," added Shultz.
The 166th RSG is the second brigade size element to deploy from Puerto Rico in the last ten months. Earlier, the 210th RSG was also activated to man and manage the largest U.S. Army mobilization platform in the United States, at Fort Bliss Texas.
There are approximately 500 Army Reserve-Puerto Rico Soldiers deployed around the world, in countries such as Cuba, Poland, Honduras, Guatemala, Afghanistan, and Texas. Since 2001, the Army Reserve in Puerto Rico has deployed a hundred percent of its units, in support of the needs of the Nation.