FORT BUCHANAN, Puerto Rico –
As hurricane season approaches its peak, Maj. Gen. Greg J. Mosser, Commanding General for the 377th Theater Sustainment Command (TSC), visited the island of Puerto Rico, Aug. 20, to make an assessment of the situation on the ground, while sustaining an effective communication with federal emergency response agencies in the U.S. territory.
With headquarters at New Orleans, Louisiana, the 377th TSC is assigned to the Army Service Component Command, U.S. Army North, and is in charge of coordinating sustainment support to contingency operations, such as hurricanes, earthquakes, wildfires and man-made disasters.
Brig. Gen. Jeffrey W. Jurasek, senior federal Army officer in the Caribbean, and Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Breck, welcomed Mosser to the 1st Mission Support Command headquarters, at Fort Buchanan, and provided a briefing about the command's capabilities.
The 1st Mission Support Command is the largest federal U.S. Army command in the region.
“The U.S. Army Reserve Multifunctional Geographic Command for the Caribbean has substantial capabilities vital in disaster response. Our men and women in uniform stand ready to support lead agencies for domestic emergencies and disaster relief efforts, under our Defense Support to Civil Authorities mission,” said Jurasek
The major points of discussion during the briefing were logistics, equipment and maintenance, as well as the communication readiness of each element within the commands.
“There is already a lot of planning that has been done, a lot of things in place. The better I understand and the better we collectively identify the gaps that may exist in those plans, the better I can come-in and help the island respond to the effects on any kind of storm,” said Mosser.
The leaders also talked about the lessons learned during the emergency created by Hurricane Maria in September 2017.
“In the event of an emergency, the Immediate Response Authority (IRA) allows local authorities to use available Department of Defense assets to save lives, prevent human suffering and mitigate greater property damage prior to requesting formal support. Based on that, we added different incident-response teams to support different locations around the island, ’’ said Col Javier Rivera, the 1st MSC’s DSCA officer in Charge.
The 377th TSC Commanding General was particularly interested on the implemented strategies to respond to natural disasters during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“How you operate on a COVID-19 environment should be the biggest priority. We need to establish how we are going to employ our resources and protect the health of the force,” added Mosser.
“The 1st MSC is working to minimize risk to the force in order to protect ourselves for the future and ensure we are able to accomplish our missions. As in any military operation, we have implemented the required mitigation measures, to ensure our Soldiers are safe, ” said Jurasek.
As part of the visit, Mosser also met with Federal Emergency Management Agency leaders and traveled to different sites around the island.
The effective communication and coordination between the 1st MSC the 377th TSC, and other federal emergency response key players on the island, clearly showcases how the Army Reserve is part of the synchronized federal emergency response system for immediate assistance.