In early September 2016, U.S. Army Sergeant First Class Dyna Oscar was busy translating Haitian Creole to English for U.S. Navy doctors and nurses attending patients during the navy hospital ship USNS COMFORT’s visit to Haiti. She had no idea that her career in the U.S. Army would take her to her birth country 20 years later to help the people of Haiti as a proud member of the Security Cooperation Office (SCO) at the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince.
The mission of the SCO-Haiti is to enhance the long-term bilateral security relationship between the United States and Haiti under the direction and guidance from U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM).
Some of the SCO activities include working with the Haitian Coast Guard (HCG) to maintain a fleet of boats and equipment and training and educating HCG officers through international military education. The SCO also manages humanitarian and civic assistance projects as well as serves as the principal U.S. Embassy liaison for U.S. military humanitarian activities. In addition, the SCO plans and executes joint disaster readiness exercises with Haiti civil protection officers through the State Partnership Program.
The office is led by a Coast Guard Commander as the senior military officer, who works with a team comprising two Army officers, one Army non-commissioned officer, and one civilian employee. Additionally, three Haitian-Americans joined the mission in Haiti: Major Jean-Jacques Louis, Major Nokens Fleurijean, and SFC Oscar.
Maj. Louis reported to SCO-Haiti in November 2016 as the deputy chief of SCO-Haiti. He oversees military operations and coordinates military personnel visits to Haiti. He also manages the Humanitarian Assistance Program, for which he is currently working on several projects related to health and disaster preparedness. He is originally from Trou-Du-Nord, a mid-size town in northeast Haiti. He left Haiti in 1988 and returned in 1994 to support Operation Uphold Democracy, as well as in 2010 to assist with the earthquake recovery efforts. His U.S. Army career spans over 23 years in which he has worked in the fields of international affairs and logistics. His previous embassy assignments include Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo; Juba, South Sudan; and Georgetown, Guyana.
Maj. Fleurijean is the operations officer of SCO-Haiti. In this capacity, he oversees multi-year security assistance funds on the behalf of the Department of State’s International Military Education and Foreign Military Financing programs in Haiti. He is originally from Ile-de-La Gonave and left Haiti when he was 16 years old. Maj. Fleurijean arrived at the U.S. Embassy in Haiti in March 2017. His military career spans over 14 years across the U.S. Air Force and Army as an aircraft maintenance officer and logistics officer. His previous embassy assignment was in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
SFC Oscar is the administrative officer responsible for the day-to-day management of SCO-Haiti. Her career spans more than 15 years in the U.S. Army, and she has worked as a specialist in human resources. She is originally from Saint Marc. She left Haiti when she was 12 years old and has been working in the U.S. Embassy in Haiti since August 2014. During her time in the country, SFC Oscar accomplished many tasks: Recently, she worked side-by-side with colleagues from the U.S. Agency for International Development and SOUTHCOM to coordinate the disaster response following the destruction caused by Hurricane Matthew. In her spare time, she volunteers at a local orphanage and has been a superb role model for young Haitian girls.
SCO-Haiti promotes a unique and strong bond of security cooperation and humanitarian assistances between the U.S. Defense Department and Haitian government agencies, particularly, the Haitian National Police, Coast Guard, and Department of Civil Protection. Working with their Haitian counterparts, Maj. Louis, Maj. Fluerijean, and SFC Oscar are making a direct positive impact on the lives of thousands of Haitians. In a larger picture, they help deepen positive relationships between two countries.