By Ms. Arwen Consaul, U.S. Army South Public AffairsMarch 16, 2010
FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas (March 16, 2010) -- U.S. Army South continued to push Soldiers to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, during the past several days as its headquarters element deployed to provide support to the Joint Task Force-Haiti headquarters as part of Operation Unified Response.
"This is the first time that U.S. Army South has deployed as an Army service component command, ever," said Maj. Gen. Simeon G. Trombitas, commanding general of U.S. Army South. "Our mission is to provide a trained and ready Army command and control headquarters for a full spectrum of operations, to include humanitarian assistance."
Army South will assume the responsibility as the Headquarters Corps and will provide the primary planning staff for Joint Task Force-Haiti. As part of the headquarters element of Joint Task Force-Haiti, Army South will assist in providing leadership and coordination for military personnel in Haiti and liaison with the lead federal agency, USAID and other non-governmental organizations, as needed.
"One of our missions will be focusing on current operations, compiling and organizing operational information for both the Joint Task Force and U.S. Southern Command commander," said Maj. Brian Pedersen, the Operational Command Post officer in charge at U.S. Army South. "This information provides the commanders with an accurate picture of what is happening in Haiti in regards to humanitarian assistance and our military operations, which ultimately supports the government of Haiti, as well as governmental, non-governmental and international governmental organizations."
Over the past few days, more than 150 Soldiers from Army South joined the Army South Soldiers currently on the ground in Haiti supporting Operation Unified Response. Support includes Soldiers with specialties in engineering, medical support, operations, logistics, security and intelligence.
"Part of our mission as the headquarters ... is to provide life support to the Joint Task Force," said Lt. Col. Scot Storey, the U.S. Army South Special Troops Battalion commander. "We will ensure that the JTF has their required daily necessities so that they can focus on their job."
As a humanitarian mission, Operation Unified Response will provide the Soldiers of Army South the opportunity to use their training and expertise outside a combat zone.
"For our Soldiers 90 percent have done missions in a combat zone," said Trombitas. "Going on this mission to help the people and assist the government of Haiti is significant not only to the Haitian people but to our Soldiers as well."
According to many of the deploying Soldiers, they are excited to help the government of Haiti and put their training to use.
"I feel real good about going to Haiti," said Sgt. 1st Class Patrick Oliver, a watercraft operator with Army South's logistics directorate. "I get to take everything I have been taught and trained to do and use it in the real world."
Providing assistance to Haiti is part of Army South's mission of building strong regional partnerships to enhance hemispheric stability and security for the western hemisphere.
"Bottom line, the country of Haiti is part of our family in the western hemisphere," said Storey. "Their well-being is just as important as our own."