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Brigade supports Unified Response with intelligence teams in Haiti

Jan 28, 2010

By Gregory Ripps, 470th MI Brigade Public Affairs

FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas -- Morning came early Jan. 23 as Soldiers of the 470th Military Intelligence Brigade drew weapons from their arms room at Fort Sam Houston and conducted pre-combat checks and inspections.

By 5:10 a.m. they were on the Kelly Field Annex of Lackland Air Force Base with equipment loaded, bags stowed, goodbyes said and commanders' hands shaken before boarding a C-130 aircraft for Port-Au-Prince, Haiti.

The pre-deployment and deployment procedures were all too-familiar to the brigade's Soldiers, but this time their mission was in support of disaster relief. Throughout the weekend of Jan. 23 and 24, the brigade and Army South deployed Soldiers and civilians as part of the United Nations humanitarian mission, Operation Unified Response.

The 470th MI Brigade deploys Soldiers worldwide, serving in Southern Command, Central Command and Northern Command missions ranging from Afghanistan to Paraguay.

"Except this time is different," said Col. Mark Costello, Assistant Chief of Staff, U.S. Army South, "as the team is deploying in support of Joint Task Force Haiti with their analytical skills and robust reach-back secure communications capability."

In concert with Army South, the 470th was deploying DISE personnel to support JTF Haiti and XVIII Airborne Corps as they continue rescue operations and begin to transition to recovery operations - a major effort that will require an enduring support capability on the part of Army South and the brigade.

Brigade analysts typically conduct their business from U.S. soil, but these intelligence Soldiers train to deploy forward in small elements and set up their advanced computers and communications devices to produce analysis for the commanders in the field.

They carry with them capability sufficient to produce intelligence products in austere forward environments and reach back to the main command post at Fort Sam Houston for more in-depth analysis.

These Soldiers also interact with forward-operating personnel who better understand the environment and then develop taskings for intelligence production.

"This time our analysts are focusing on enemies of a different type: sicknesses such as malaria, yellow fever and dysentery; infrastructure threats that affect the health of neighborhoods; communications areas that lack connectivity; trash and debris that threaten to create sickness; water areas that can be used or harmful," explained Col. Jim Lee, 470th MI Brigade commander.

"These analysts will help commanders make decisions about non-traditional actions such as measuring the indicators for Haitian migration throughout the country and how to assist the government of Haiti resettle their citizens in safe areas."

The Soldiers of 470th MI Brigade who landed in Port-Au-Prince braced themselves for their mission in support relief operations, anticipating a long deployment to help their neighbor's recovery from disaster.

"Our Soldiers are well prepared for these missions," said 470th MI Brigade Command Sgt. Maj. Ronald Mason.

"Our NCOs train them to be expeditionary capable and ready to deploy in the middle of the night to foreign lands."

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