Louisiana Guard Set to Lead New Haiti Mission
By Army Spc. Darron Salzer
National Guard Bureau
ARLINGTON, Va., April 26, 2010 The Louisiana National Guard is scheduled to lead a “New Horizons” humanitarian assistance exercise in Haiti beginning June 1, U.S. Southern Command officials announced yesterday.
“We are proud to have our National Guard step forward to be a part of this important recovery effort,” Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said. “Louisiana received so much support from across the country and around the world after hurricanes Katrina and Rita, we stand ready to lend that same assistance to other parts of the world in their times of need.
“These brave men and women know firsthand the type of hard work and perseverance it takes to recover from a disaster,” he continued, “and I know that they will serve the people of Haiti well.”
The exercise in Haiti will provide critically needed medical and engineering services to the country’s capital of Port-au-Prince and surrounding communities, such as Gonaives. The country was ravaged by an earthquake Jan. 12.
“In three months, we’ve planned a significant exercise in Haiti where there wasn’t one previously,” said Army Lt. Col. Scott Jonda, the exercises branch chief for the Army Guard’s operations division. “Our engineer units will provide some … new construction of schools and clinics, and there will be medical units that will go out and provide various medical tasks in the community.”
Southcom officials said free medical care will be provided at various sites, and that U.S. military medical personnel will be stationed at each site for 10 days to provide general medical, dental and optometry services for about 700 people daily.
Engineering projects will include not only new construction at three schools, but also construction of a sports recreation area and water well improvements, Southcom officials said.
Army Lt. Gen. Ken Keen, Southcom’s military deputy commander, said the humanitarian assistance mission in Haiti would consist of about 500 soldiers, led by the Louisiana National Guard.
“The Louisiana National Guard is excited about leading the New Horizons mission to Haiti,” said Army Maj. Gen. Bennett C. Landreneau, the state’s adjutant general. “While our soldiers and airmen are very proud to join the relief effort, this mission [will] also be an excellent training opportunity for them.”
Jonda said the Louisiana National Guard will provide the duration staff, while eight other states and one territory will contribute soldiers to this mission, including Missouri, Nevada, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, California, Indiana, Massachusetts and the U.S. Virgin Islands. North Dakota, Indiana and Nevada will provide military police support. Nevada and Montana will provide aviation support, and South Dakota will provide engineering support.
New Horizons missions began in the mid-1980s as an annual series of joint and combined humanitarian assistance exercises that Southcom conducts with Latin American and Caribbean nations. The exercises typically last several months, providing medical and infrastructure projects. These missions give deployed U.S. military forces invaluable training opportunities to work with partner nations, Guard officials said.
The assistance from New Horizons adds to the more than $1.03 billion in emergency humanitarian assistance already provided to the Haitian people by the U.S. government since the devastating earthquake.