Over the weekend, Gov. Ralph DLG Torres met with Brig. Gen. Tracy L. Smith, commander of the 18th Medical Command (Deployment Support) to talk about how the Department of Defense can best support the CNMI in its response efforts to combat COVID-19.
The 18th MC commander arrived on Saipan on Saturday with her team of medical planners to synchronize the needs of the Commonwealth with key medical resources.
“Our objective for our visit is to address the unmet needs that the governor identified and to synchronize the pieces together in order to maximize the resources we have by bringing the right capability at the right time,” said Smith.
The brigadier general thanked the governor for his aggressive efforts to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 in the Commonwealth.
“As medical professionals, we truly appreciate the governor’s aggressiveness in his mitigation measures to protect the Marianas. Gov. Torres has taken a phenomenal approach, and we thank him for his aggressiveness. The governor has made it easier for medical professionals and for us who are here to support the Marianas,” said Smith.
For his part, Torres noted that the current COVID-19 crisis is different from other calamities that he has experienced, but he acknowledged that being surrounded by good people makes decision-making easier no matter how difficult it may be.
“I have been through other disasters, but our current crisis is a health concern. I have good people working with me: Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. chief executive officer Esther L. Muna, COVID-19 Task Force [chair] Warren Villagomez, our authorized representative to [the Federal Emergency Management Agency] Patrick Guerrero, special assistant for Homeland Security and Emergency Management Gerald Deleon Guerrero, Dr. John Tudela, contractors, our federal partners, and everyone involved in the response efforts help in making informed decisions,” said Torres.
He added that he is following the situations that are unfolding in the U.S. mainland and across the globe.
“Recognizing the challenges that they are facing motivates me even more to give that extra push to do everything we can to protect our community. I would rather fail trying, instead of not trying at all. With the support of our federal partners, I am determined to keep my community as protected as possible and to win this fight for all of us here in the Marianas,” said Torres.
After their meeting at the Commonwealth Health Center, Torres led Smith and her medical planners to the Kanoa Resort for an onsite assessment to determine the requirement of the alternate care site and other needs in preparation for the deployment of DoD medical resources to the CNMI.
Six critical care nurses will be deployed to the CNMI in the coming weeks with a second batch of critical care capabilities forthcoming to equip the alternate care site with medical resources upon completion.
“I want to thank Brigadier General Tracy Smith, her medical team that are here, and the 18th Medical Command (Deployment Support), for their support. Seeing CEO Muna, the Task Force, HSEM, all our first responders, our federal partners who are on island, and knowing that President Trump, HHS, CDC, FEMA and DoD are doing all they can to help us through this crisis drives our efforts forward. I also thank U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, the U.S. Army Pacific, Joint Region Marianas, the 9th Mission Command Support, and Army Reservist Saipan Units,” said Torres.
On March 30, 2020, Torres requested for Defense Support of Civil Authorities Mission for deployment of key resources to augment local health care capabilities. In response to the governor’s request, Adm. Phillip Davidson, U.S. Indo-Pacific Commander, assured Torres of DoD’s commitment to helping the CNMI get through this crisis together.
Smith is a native of the Marianas and is the first Chamorro female from Guam to make the rank of general officer in the Armed Forces. The Library of Congress records Smith’s promotion to brigadier general in the U.S. Army Reserve Medical Service Corps in 2016 by Senate confirmation.
The 18th Medical Command (Deployment Support) is an expeditionary Medical Theater Enabling Command based in Hawaii whose mission is to execute mission command through the planning and synchronization of medical functions and ensuring readiness of Army medical units within the Indo-Asia Pacific Region. (PR)