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NEWS | March 4, 2019

Army Reserve-Puerto Rico briefs U.S. House Homeland Security committee members

By Lt. Col. Carlos Cuebas 1st Mission Support Command

Col. Manuel Ocasio, 1st Mission Support Command, U.S. Army Reserve-Puerto Rico deputy commander, met here with members of a House Homeland Security Committee, March 2, who traveled to Puerto Rico to conduct oversight on Federal Emergency Management Agency and United States Army Corps of Engineers storm recovery. 

The members of the delegation were U.S. Reps. Bennie Thompson, Chairman, Al Green, Jesus Garcia, and Kathleen Rice.

“We have structured the Army Reserve in Puerto Rico in a way that facilitates addressing the emergency response requirements around the island, geographically diving our capabilities,” said Ocasio during his presentation. 

Ocasio also described the recent transformation of the organization.

“We became the U.S Army Reserve Caribbean geographical command, adding key new capabilities to our formation with thousands of additional Soldiers, under one chain of command,” added officer, who is the second in command at the largest federal U.S. Army command in the region.

The U.S. representatives paid full attention to the presentation to better understand how the Army Reserve and the National Guard, in concert with federal, state, and local partners, responded to Hurricane Maria.

“I am thankful for your efforts providing relief to the people of Puerto Rico. We are here to learn how we improve future responses to natural disasters and how we can work collectively,” said Garcia. 

Previous to the meeting with Army Reserve and National Guard leaders, the U.S. representatives also met with federal and local leadership involved with disaster and emergency response.

“This is kind of an after-action review. A lot of things are still going on. We have talked to mayors, educators and ordinary citizens in Puerto Rico,” said Thompson.

“This site visit is a critical step in providing oversight of the current situation so that we will have firsthand knowledge of the issues Puerto Ricans still face. It is my hope that we will walk away from this experience with a clearer picture of the help and resources that Puerto Ricans still very much need,” said Thompson in a released written statement.

The Committee on Homeland Security was created by the U.S. House of Representatives in 2002 in the aftermath of September 11, 2001. It provides Congressional oversight over the development of the Department of Homeland Security.