AGUADILLA, Puerto Rico –
Preparation, collaboration, and innovation were those words of Capt. Yarom Navarro, 1st MSC-G9 civil affairs coordinator, when introducing the Innovative Readiness Training program to a group of military and civilian leaders during a project briefing.
The IRT is a Department of Defense military training opportunity exclusive to the United States and its territories that delivers joint training opportunities to increase deployment readiness. Simultaneously, IRT provides critical services with lasting benefits for the communities.
Through the IRT program, the 448th Engineer Battalion, from the 1st Mission Support Command, U.S. Army Reserve Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, are delivering for the first time engineering services to the Puerto Rico Port Authority as a collaborative effort to restore the Rafael Hernandez International Airport here, August 5.
"The requirements and application process for the IRT program is available on the irt.defense.gov website," said Capt. Navarro. "We completed the application process and participated in meetings to discuss the integration, permits, human resources, safety, logistics, and operational requirements."
Ltc. Jesus Perez, the 448th battalion commander, explained that the Army Reserve engineers will be rotating in multiple cycles until the project's culmination, which is forecasted to end in late September this year.
"The Port Authority had a necessity which translated into an opportunity for us to train and give back to the community," said Ltc. Perez.
Capt. Ja'pa' Peay, the 448th battalion operation officer, said the Army Reserve engineers are proficient in project management and horizontal and vertical construction. The Army Reserve engineers are also certified to operate heavy machinery such as bulldozers, cranes, graders, excavators, dump trucks, and loaders.
"We are grateful to the Department of Defense for the IRT program and the U.S. Army Reserve for the opportunity that they have given us," said Joel Pizá Batiz, director of the Puerto Rico Port Authority. "Through this project collaboration, we can restore the visual perimeter of the Aguadilla Airport."
Piza Batiz said his team would again request the engineering services of the Army Reserve soon.
As a way of reflecting, Col. Carlos Caceres, 1st MSC commanding officer, indicated that he is proud of the work and efforts of the soldiers of the 448th battalion. He also assured that he intends to promote programs that allow the collaborative effort of the Army Reserve with the community.
For 100 years, the U.S. Army Reserve in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands has supported U.S. national security interests by providing essential capabilities to the Total Army and the Joint Force. Its strategic location in the Caribbean enables the 1st MSC to support humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations when allies and partners request.