FORT BUCHANAN, PR- The last two years have been of great significance to the Garita Warriors from the 1st Mission Support Command (1st MSC), U.S. Army Reserve Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
A hurricane devastation that required Defense Support to Civil Authorities (DSCA) missions, the creation of a unified geographic command, and the addition of units with new capabilities changed the 1st MSC significantly. Now, the premier fighting force of the Caribbean has a new commander.
Surrounded by family, distinguished visitors, and Soldiers from the 1st MSC, Brig. Gen. Dustin A. Shultz relinquished her command to Brig. Gen. Jeffrey W. Jurasek, Aug. 24, at the Soldier's Plaza in Fort Buchanan. This ceremony marked the first change of command since the creation of the Caribbean Geographic Command.
Shultz assumed command of the 1st MSC on September 2017, days before hurricanes Irma and Maria ravaged the island affecting Soldiers and civilians alike. The General had the daunting task of commanding the troops during the relief efforts, ensuring synergy with units that didn't report to the 1st MSC, at that time.
This event led to a great transformation for the Army Reserve: the establishment of the Caribbean Geographic Command, which added five new units to the 1st MSC, unifying them under the Garita patch.
"I thank each and every Soldier for their hard work and dedication to the 1st MSC, the Army, and each other," said Shultz. She highlighted the command's groundbreaking work in the aftermath of the hurricanes, by "mobilizing and demobilizing at your home station in order to perform a critical Defense Support to Civil Authorities operation."
Maj. Gen. Kenneth D. Jones, Commanding General for the 81st Readiness Division, described Shultz as the "right leader, at the right time, to lead this command."
Meanwhile, Sgt. Maj. Julio Linares, the command's Operations Sergeant Major, summed up Shultz' leader characteristics in one word: ethics. "Everything she does is guided by ethics", said Linares, who has worked with Shultz on three previous occasions.
Jones, who deployed on 2015 with Jurasek, described the incoming commander's values. "I know that his watchword is duty", remarked Jones, who represented Lt. Gen. Charles D. Luckey, Chief Army Reserve and Commanding General U.S. Army Reserve Command, during the ceremony.
The assignment to the 1st MSC, is Jurasek's second time commanding troops in Puerto Rico. On 2008, he assumed command of the 402nd Civil Affairs Battalion, back then located in Tonawanda, N.Y. Six months later, the battalion was relocated to the island and Jurasek's outstanding leadership ensured that the unit was ready to deploy to the Horn of Africa.
Now, Jurasek is the senior federal Army officer in the region.
"The 1st MSC is known for its officers who lead from the front, its NCOs who lead by example, and its Soldiers who are technically and tactically proficient whenever they go downrange and execute any mission," said Jurasek during his speech. "Me and my wife Meleah are looking forward to soldiering along with you," he added.
With approximately 5,000 troops assigned and hundreds of civilian employees, the Army Reserve Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico is the largest federal U.S. Army command in the Caribbean, with an approximate economic investment of $285 million in the local economy.