Army Lt. Gen. Jeff Buchanan was deployed to Puerto Rico to oversee disaster recovery, after the small island territory got pummeled by multiple destructive hurricanes last month.
General Buchanan, is the U.S. Northern Commander (Northcom), and his role in Puerto Rico will be to serve as the Pentagon’s primary liaison to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
“Lt. Gen. Buchanan is scheduled to arrive later today in Puerto Rico and is expected to link with FEMA and Puerto Rico officials to lead U.S. Northern Command’s efforts in response and recovery,” Northcom announced in a statement. U.S. Army North deputy commanding General, Brig. Gen. Rich Kim was also sent to Puerto Rico on Wednesday to help support the effort.
The deployment of Buchanan and Kim are seen as active measures to help the Defense Department transition “from a short-term, sea-based response to a predominantly land-based effort,” as noted by Lt. Col. Jamie Davis, a spokesperson for the Pentagon.
The Pentagon has been hard at work in their efforts to help Puerto Rico rebuild. This week, Pat Shanahan, Deputy Defense Secretary vowed to Puerto Rican Gov. Ricardo Rosselló that the Pentagon “will stay aligned with FEMA’s plan to stabilize the situation and sustain life in Puerto Rico.”
According to a statement by the Pentagon, Shanahan “made clear supporting the territory’s citizens is a top priority, and [the Department of Defense] will deploy all needed resources to do so.”
The Miami Herald noted: “FEMA and Department of Defense officials emphasized that Puerto Rican Gov. Ricardo Rosselló is in charge of the island’s response, but that the federal government closely coordinates with local officials.”
‘We are in lockstep with those guys,’ said FEMA regional administrator John Rabin. ‘We are not in a waiting mode for anything. We have reached out to all 78 municipalities here in Puerto Rico and we have delivered some commodities to all of them.’
President Trump announced that he will travel to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands next week, to survey the recovery effort.
The White House has requested emergency supplemental funding from the Congress, as highlighted by President Trump’s homeland security adviser, Tom Bossert in a press briefing. Bossert stated, “We’re going to go back for more and ask for that in the form of an emergency supplemental to provide money into the fund that does this life-sustaining effort and even some of the early recovery efforts.”