By Gregory Ripps, 470th MI Brigade Public AffairsFebruary 4, 2010
FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas -- Although the intense initial interest in the Haiti disaster is dissipating, Soldiers and civilians of the 470th Military Intelligence Brigade and U.S. Army South continue their mission.
They continue to "build capacity" to provide intelligence support to Joint Task Force Haiti as they prepare for the United Nations mission and the World Food Program to begin their surge to feed two million Haitians.
While WFP feeds the people, the brigade will continue to produce assessments of the various threats to the population and changing conditions on the ground - such as malaria, yellow fever, dysentery, criminal gangs, escaped Haitian prisoners and looters - that threaten the health and safety of the Haitian people.
The 470th MI Brigade Soldiers have begun conducting environmental surveys of Haitian populations as internal migrations continue and the traditional neighborhoods change social dynamics and demographics.
These surveys will provide critical information to commanders on health, atmospherics, starvation, and crime statistics for coming decisions that will better support the Haitian people's recovery.
"Our intelligence efforts are focused on moving logistics among the destroyed streets and local people to survey neighborhood accessibility and population shifts that inform our commanders and the planners for WFP and United Nations mission to better support their relief efforts," said Lt. Col. Tom Meyer, brigade operations officer.
While the United Nations continues it relief mission, 470th and ARSOUTH Soldiers and civilians are continuing their preparations for potential mass migrations and follow-on JTF-Haiti mission support.
"The 470th continues to build and prepare additional intelligence expeditionary teams; we've prepared a second Deployable Intelligence Support Element with a second communications package that is ready to deploy when called for by ARSOUTH," said Col. Jim Lee, brigade commander. "We are always anticipating the next mission.
"Conditions in South and Central America are continually changing," Lee continued. "We recently deployed intelligence support teams to El Salvador and assist JTF-Bravo in that nation's mudslide relief operations. More recently, torrential rains stranded hundreds of tourists - some American - as mudslides damaged railway and roads leading into Machu Pichu and other parts of Peru. This could potentially require our expedient assistance."
The brigade is also supporting a team in planning to counter illicit trafficking in Guatemala and continues to support the Colombian Army in its counter terrorism/narcotics efforts. The brigade continues to engage in its area of responsibility even while balancing requirements to support Operation Unified Response in Haiti.
Anticipating that U.S. support of Haiti's recovery will last for months, the 470th is preparing for long-term support operations to JTF Haiti by building capacity to back fill their Soldiers and civilians there.
"We are always preparing for the next mission," said Jean Whitlock, brigade communications and signals chief. "That's why we are continually maintaining and training our deployable intelligence and communications gear for expeditionary operations. We are ready."