Today, Governor Bobby Jindal and Maj. Gen. Bennett C. Landreneau, adjutant general of the Louisiana National Guard, announced that the Louisiana National Guard will lead a U.S. Southern Command New Horizons mission to perform construction projects and provide humanitarian and medical assistance to communities impacted by the Jan. 12 earthquake in Haiti. The LANG's mission is scheduled to start in May and conclude in September.
Governor Jindal said, "The Louisiana National Guard served as the backbone of our state's disaster response and recovery efforts after we were struck by four storms in just three years. These brave men and women know firsthand the type of hard work and perseverance it takes to recover from a disaster and I know that they will serve the people of Haiti well in helping them get back on their feet as quickly as possible. We are proud to have our National Guard step forward to be a part of this important recovery effort. Louisiana received so much support from across the country and around the world after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and we stand ready to lend that same assistance to other parts of the world in their time of need."
"The Louisiana National Guard is excited about leading the New Horizons mission to Haiti," said Maj. Gen. Landreneau, who stepped up initially to lead the mission. "While our Guardsmen are very proud to join the relief efforts, this mission is also an excellent training opportunity for all of our Soldiers and Airmen."
New Horizons missions afford participating military units and personnel the opportunity to utilize their capabilities and skills to help communities and individuals with humanitarian needs while enhancing their ability to deploy abroad in support of military operations.
Landreneau added, "This is a great opportunity for LANG to step up and assist the people of Haiti. LANG is ideally suited to lead this mission, due to its engineer brigade's experience with disaster response and recovery."
Approximately 500 Soldiers, Airmen and Sailors will be participating in the New Horizons mission. The mission will be based in the vicinity of Gonaives, Haiti, which is approximately 95 miles north of Port au Prince.
Other states assisting in the New Horizons mission include Missouri, Nevada, Montana, South Dakota, North Dakota, Texas, Indiana, New York and Virginia. Specifically, South Dakota will provide engineering support; Montana will provide aviation support; Texas will provide Active Duty communications and information systems support; Nevada will provide military police and aviation support; North Dakota, Montana and Indiana will provide military police support; and New York will provide Army Reserve medical support.
Support will also come from the U.S. Virgin Islands, who will provide water purification teams and the Navy SeaBees, who will provide a construction unit.
Air Force, Navy and Army Reserve units will provide medical treatment teams consisting of 30-40 doctors and nurses. The bulk of LANG's focus will be on engineering projects.
"We will be focusing our efforts on providing some essential services to Haitians that have evacuated Port au Prince," said Col. Michael Borrel, the LANG's New Horizons task force commander. "During this mission, our task force will construct several school buildings, allowing Haitian students to move out of the tents currently being used for classrooms. The task force will also send medical treatment teams to several communities where medical facilities are non-existent."
LANG was the first to conduct a New Horizons mission, beginning in 1984 in Panama. They have since conducted similar missions in Belize, Honduras and Guatemala.
"Although we have performed these types of missions in previous years in Central America," Borrel added, "we are truly honored to lead this training mission. Having personally seen the dire situation in Haiti, our Guardsmen understand the important role we will have in assisting the area over the months ahead."