By ARNEWSApril 20, 2010
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, April 20, 2010) -- Maj. Gen. Simeon G. Trombitas, commander of U.S. Army South, took over the reins of Joint Task Force-Haiti Sunday.
Lt. Gen. Ken Keen, who had served as commander of the task force in Haiti since January, said farewell in a message to his troops. He said it was a privilege to work with all U.S. military services, side-by-side with 18 militaries from the United Nations Peace-Keeping Force and with hundreds of non-governmental agencies helping provide aid following the devastating earthquake.
"I believe no one can come to Haiti and remain unchanged," Keen said in a farewell article in The Responder, the newspaper serving JTF-Haiti. "I know I have certainly been personally and professionally affected by what I saw and experienced since Jan. 12..."
"The children of Haiti have hope because of the overwhelming response of the world, a response led by America and the U.S. military," he said.
For instance, the U.S. Army has delivered nearly 9 million meals ready to eat and 7 million bottles of water to Haiti in support of humanitarian efforts there since January, according the Army G-4.
"You can all look back on this experience with pride and satisfaction knowing you saved lives and gave hope to the people of Haiti," he told servicemembers.
At the height of the humanitarian-assistance mission in Haiti, about 22,000 U.S. forces were assisting in the effort, including 7,000 land-based troops, with the remainder operating aboard 58 aircraft and 15 nearby ships. Currently, about 2,200 U.S. troops remain in Haiti, and Keen said that number is expected to drop to about 500 by June.
The drawdown can be attributed to the ample assistance being provided by non-governmental agencies, Keen said. In addition, Keen announced at a press conference Monday that beginning this month, the Louisiana National Guard will conduct a five-month exercise focused on helping to rebuild Haiti.
As part of the "New Horizons" exercise, the Guard will be engaged in projects exceeding $2 million, to rebuild facilities such as school classrooms and emergency operations centers that could help with future disasters, Keen said.
Trombitas has commanded U.S. Army South since Nov. 9. Before that, he was the special assistant to the commanding general of Army Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, N.C.
Trombitas graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., in 1978. His first assignment was with the 2nd Armored Division. He has commanded the U.S. Special Operations Command in Korea and the U.S. Military Group in Colombia.
(A report from John Kruzel of the American Forces Press Service contributed to this article, along with one from J.D. Leipold of the Army News Service and The Responder newspaper staff of JTF-Haiti.)