By North Dakota National GuardJune 3, 2010
FARGO, N.D. (Army News Service, June 2, 2010) -- While U.S. Southern Command's earthquake disaster response in Haiti officially ended Tuesday, humanitarian and construction work augmented by about 500 National Guard Soldiers continue there.
The mission, dubbed New Horizons, incorporates National Guard Soldiers from Louisiana, North Dakota, Missouri, Nevada, Montana, South Dakota, Texas, Indiana, New York and the Virgin Islands.
Twenty-one North Dakota Soldiers, from the 191st Military Police Company, arrived in Haiti on May 19 and are spending three weeks providing force protection for medical personnel and those constructing a base camp about 95 miles north of Port au Prince, near Gonaives, Haiti. They've been operating at the base camp, as well as a reception, staging and onward movement and integration, or RSOI site, said Sgt. 1st Class Troy Skelton, of Bismarck, N.D., the noncommissioned officer in charge of the group.
"Conditions are improving at each site every day," Skelton said. "We are still looking forward to our first hot meal at each site, but we are getting a few Soldiers to the embassy to enjoy a fresh, hot sandwich from time to time. Still, there are no showers at the base camp, so the Soldiers are keeping clean by way of evening rain showers and rotations to the RSOI site."
Beyond force protection missions, the military police have been tasked with some convoy security missions from Port au Prince to the border. They also have done personal security duty for medical readiness training exercise staff as they move into position and prepare for their humanitarian mission.
"The task force leadership has nothing but good things to say about North Dakota Soldiers and praise for their attitude and work ethic," Skelton said.
While the mission's pace has been hectic and the luxuries of home are missing, Skelton reports the morale of the Soldiers -- all of whom volunteered for this mobilization -- remains stellar.
New Horizons gives participating military personnel the opportunity to use their capabilities to help communities and individuals with humanitarian needs while enhancing their ability to deploy abroad in support of military operations.