Southcom Chief Praises Haiti Quake Response
By Arthur McQueen
U.S. Army Garrison Miami
DORAL, Fla., Jan. 13, 2011 A year after his headquarters staff jumped into action to coordinate the military response to a devastating earthquake in Haiti, Air Force Gen. Douglas Fraser, commander of U.S. Southern Command, offered high praise yesterday for the hard work and dedication they demonstrated.
Fraser, during his first all-hands meeting in his command’s new headquarters, marked the one-year anniversary of the magnitude 7.0 earthquake that killed an estimated 300,000 people and displaced one-third of Haiti’s population.
“Many of us remember where we were when it happened, and where we were for quite some time afterward,” he told about 1,000 service members, civilian employees and contractors who filled the gymnasium.
Fraser praised the many long hours the Southcom staff members spent coordinating the military response in support of the interagency and international relief effort and noted the augmentation more than 800 additional staff provided.
He led a moment of silence for Air Force Lt. Col. Ken Bourland, who was killed in the collapse of the Hotel Montana. Bourland, Southcom’s Caribbean desk officer, was visiting Haiti for an officialmeeting with Haitian defense and security counterparts when the earthquake struck.
While looking back over the past year, Fraser also shared his focus for 2011, particularly in light of budget limitations and likely changes in manning and funding.
“The secretary of defense has a significant effort under way to take ability out of the tail and move it into the tooth,” he told the group. “We will have to take a look at what we can and can’t do; there are a lot of changes coming throughout the Department of Defense.”
With the inevitable return of another hurricane season to Miami, Fraser offered assurance that the command is prepared to face it in a facility that can withstand a Category 5 storm. He asked for everyone’s assistance to keep it up to standards so that it lasts well into the future.
“It’s been a privilege this last year to serve with you,” Fraser told the group. “We have great partners and great relationships with the militaries throughout the region. That is a tribute to each and every one of you. I look forward to a very prosperous and uneventful, but focused, 2011.”