U.S. Forward Operating Location welcomes new commander on Curaçao

WILLEMSTAD- On June 16, Lieutenant Colonel Donald A. Morris relinquished command of the United States Forward Operating Locations (USFOL) on Curaçao and Aruba to Lieutenant Colonel Ian R. Barta. The Change of Command is a time-honored military tradition which symbolizes the continuation of leadership and unit identity despite the change in individual authority. Passing the ceremonial flag from the old commander to the new commander physically represents this transfer. 

Present at the ceremony were U.S. Consul General Margy Bond and Governor of Curacao Lucille George-Wout, Dutch Military General Frank Boots, Lieutenant Colonel Cory R. Christoffer, Commander of the 612th Theater Operations Group and 474th Air Expeditionary Group, Headquarters Twelfth Air Force (Air Forces Southern), Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, and other invited guests.   

Lieutenant Colonel Donald A. Morris distinguished himself in the performance of outstanding service to the United States as Commander, 429th Expeditionary Operations Squadron and Detachment 2, 612th Theater Operations Group, Headquarters Twelfth Air Force (Air Forces Southern), Forward Operating Locations, Curacao, and Aruba. 

During this period, Lt Col Morris led 460 airmen and contractors responsible for the execution of sixteen-million-dollar base operations support contract in support of United States Southern Command’s aerial counter-narcotics mission and 4.5 billion dollars in joint forces assets.  He ensured the success of 64 Department of Defense and Homeland Security deployments, executed 523 missions, 3,627 flight hours, and enabled the seizure of 142 metric tons of narcotics valued at 2.1 billion dollars.  

Additionally, Lt Col Morris was instrumental in building partnerships for Southern Command’s Area of Responsibility, executing key leader engagements with Curacao’s Prime Minister and local officials. Trough relationships with community leaders he was able to open the installation to 245 children introducing them to our shared mission.  

Furthermore, he strengthens relationships by hosting numerous distinguished visitor activities, communicating the strategic importance Curacao is to the Joint Operating Environment. His leadership culminated in the standup of the first Royal Netherlands Air Force MQ-9A Squadron increasing Airpower projection in the Caribbean.   


His successor, Lt Col Ian A. Barta was the commander of the 445 air Expeditionary Squadron leading 154 personnel across Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador meeting Combatant Command and parent nation objectives. 

The USFOLs on Curacao and Aruba and the 429th Expeditionary Operations Squadron support multinational aircraft operations that conduct detection, monitoring, and tracking missions that play an important role in counter-drug efforts in the region. USFOL Curaçao was established because of a multilateral agreement between the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the United States whereby aircraft and crews deploy to the USFOL on a temporary basis to conduct counter-drug operations.

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