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NEWS | Feb. 12, 2024

Bolstering capabilities: New Army Reserve Center and Innovative Readiness Training

By Staff Sgt. Katherine Ramos Muniz 1st Mission Support Command

On Feb. 10, the 1st Mission Support Command (MSC), an Army Reserve organization strategically located in the Caribbean, celebrated a ribbon cutting ceremony to mark the opening of the new Army Reserve facility.

The facility will serve as the new home for 17 Army Reserve units, collectively known as the Garita Warriors. With a total cost of $20 million, this 58,199 square foot facility includes administrative areas, a nursing room, a breastfeeding room, a storage facility, and other spaces designed to enhance the workplace environment.

At the ceremony, the commanding officer of the 1st MSC Col. Carlos E. Gorbea emphasized that this modernization effort signifies an investment towards the people who work within its walls.

"Today we have Soldiers deployed to different places in the United States, Europe, and the Middle East, serving in complex environments," said Col. Gorbea. "Facilities like this will retain the best warriors within our force and will recruit the next generation of soldiers."

During his inaugural remarks, Col. Gorbea underscored the dual commitment of these Soldiers to both their civilian roles and their service in the U.S. Army Reserve. He said: "The Garita Warriors are your neighbors, your teachers, your doctors, your engineers…they are twice the citizen serving our communities in their civilian jobs and wearing the Army uniform."

Several distinguished guests were present at the inauguration of the Army Reserve Center. Among the attendees were members of the Congressional Staff Delegation, Maj. Gen. Robert D. Harter, the commanding general of the 81st Readiness Division, Luis Soto, the civilian aide to the Secretary of the Army, Brig. Gen. Carlos Torres Febus, the Puerto Rico’s National Guard land component commander, and Brig. Gen. Retired Fernando Fernandez, the Army Reserve Ambassador.

As the officials proceeded to the ribbon-cutting act, Pfc. Erick Garcia from the 448th Engineering Battalion stood proudly next to Maj. Gen. Harter, representing the next generation of soldiers. This symbolic gesture highlighted the continuity and strength of the Army Reserve as it moves forward into the future.

Following the ribbon-cutting ceremony, the Congressional Staff Delegation and military officials visited an Innovative Readiness Training (IRT) project site at Ceiba Airport, formerly known as the Air Naval Station Roosevelt Roads. The group traveled from Isla Grande to Ceiba in a Puerto Rico Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk aircraft to explore this military training opportunity and witness its positive impact.

During the visit, the delegation learned about a recent IRT project completed by the 448th Engineer Battalion, which focused on ensuring a clear line of sight from the airport control tower to the airport's perimeter fence. This operation resulted in the clearance of over 168 acres of debris within the designated area.

Maj. Daniel Lavorgna, the IRT program manager from the U.S. Army Reserve Command, explained that the IRT is a Department of Defense training program created 30 years ago as part of the rebuilding America initiative. This program not only provides realistic training for military personnel but also contributes to the rebuilding of communities, he highlighted.

Maj. Lavorgna emphasized that the success of an IRT project hinges on teamwork, as it is a collaborative program that leverages military contributions and community resources to maximize value and cost savings for all involved.

He also underscored the diverse skill sets that soldiers can develop through the IRT including healthcare, construction, logistics, planning, communications, operations, computer networking, civil affairs and leadership in a joint environment. This multifaceted approach ensures that IRT projects have a meaningful and lasting impact on both military readiness and community development.

The 1st MSCs commitment to "Ready Now, Shaping Tomorrow" goes beyond mere discourse; it is a guiding principle that drives efforts to bolster the unit's capabilities and enhance the Army Reserve experience for its community.