Chief of Staff
Command Master Chief
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Rear Admiral Stephen E. Mehling assumed the duties of Director for Joint Interagency Task Force (JIATF) South in June of 2013.
His prior Flag assignments include Director of Operations, Coast Guard Atlantic Area and Commander of the Fourteenth District. As Director of Operations, he oversaw Coast Guard missions with a span of control
that extended from the Rocky Mountains to the Arabian Gulf and reached across five Coast Guard Districts and 40 states. As Commander of the Fourteenth Coast Guard District, Rear Admiral Mehling was responsible
for all Coast Guard operations throughout 12.2M sq. miles of the Pacific including Hawaii, Guam, and American Samoa.
Rear Admiral Mehling is a career aviator with 17 years of operational flying experience at air stations on the East Coast, West Coast, and Gulf Coast. He had air station command tours in Houston, TX and Miami, FL,
where he directed fixed and rotary wing aircraft operations throughout the Southeast U.S. and the Caribbean, including oversight of the Coast Guard’s support detachment in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Between aviation
assignments, he served 9 years in program oversight and personnel management duties in Washington, DC, including service as the Chief of Officer Personnel Management, Deputy Chief of Aviation Forces, and Shipboard-Helicopter
Platform Manager. During these assignments, he directed the shipboard testing of the HH-60J helicopter aboard Coast Guard cutters, participated in the Commission on Roles and Missions of the Armed Forces, and was presented the
DOT Secretary's Team Award for his leadership of the Aviation Resource Modeling Team.
Rear Admiral Mehling received his commission in 1980. His first assignment was as a Deck Watch Officer and as the Operations Officer aboard CGC SWEETGUM. Following this tour afloat, he attended flight training in Pensacola, FL in
1982 and was designated a Coast Guard aviator in 1983. Rear Admiral Mehling holds a Bachelor of Science degree with high honors in Mathematics from the Coast Guard Academy and a Master of Science degree in Management from the
University of Maryland. He has attended the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies in Honolulu and was a member of the U.S. delegation to the Pacific Islands Forum in Cairns, Australia.
Rear Admiral Mehling’s personal awards include the Legion of Merit, four Meritorious Service Medals with Operational Device, two Air Medals, two Coast Guard Commendation Medals with Operational Device, the 9-11 Medal and numerous
other team, unit, and individual awards.
Rear Admiral Clarke reported to Joint Interagency Task Force South in August 2014 from the Operations Directorate of the Joint Staff where he served as the Assistant Deputy Director for Regional Operations and Force Management (J35), from October 2012 through July 2014.
Born in Panama City, Panama, he grew up in Richmond, Virginia. He graduated from the University of Virginia in 1985 with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering. In 1992 he earned a Masters in Business Administration from Chaminade University of Honolulu, Hawaii.
Clarke is a career submarine officer who served aboard USS INDIANAPOLIS (SSN 697), USS KENTUCKY (SSBN 737) and USS CHEYENNE (SSN 773) before commanding USS RHODE ISLAND (SSBN 740) (GOLD) from August 2002 to July 2005. While in command, his crew earned three consecutive Battle Efficiency “E” Awards and numerous departmental awards. Later he served as Commander of Submarine Squadron TWO from July 2009 to May 2011.
His shore assignments include tours as Assistant Intelligence and Special Projects Officer on the staff of Commander, Submarine Forces, U.S. Pacific Fleet, Squadron Engineer for Submarine Squadron TWENTY, and Staff Officer at Supreme Headquarters, Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE).
Following command, he served as the Submarine Operations Officer on the combined staff of Commander U.S. Naval Forces Europe, Commander U.S. SIXTH Fleet and Commander Task Force SIXTY NINE, Special Assistant to the Director, Naval Nuclear Propulsion for Personnel Policy and Training, and as Director for Operations, Commander Submarine Forces Atlantic.
Mr. David H. Lent assumed the duties of Vice Director for Joint Interagency Task Force South (JIATF) South in April of 2014.
Vice Director Lent is a combat veteran with over 30 years of government service. He began his Federal law enforcement career with the former U.S. Customs Service (USCS) in 1991, stationed in El Paso, Texas.
During his tenure he served as a Customs Pilot. In 1999, Mr. Lent became an Aviation Group Supervisor. In 2004, Mr. Lent transferred to Headquarters in Washington, D.C. where he served as Program Manager
for Enforcement Operations. From 2005 – 2006, Director Lent was mobilized by the U.S. Army and served as Chief, Training Strategy and Plans for the Multi-National Security Transition Command –
Iraq and as an advisor to the Assistant Chief of Staff of Training, Iraqi Joint Forces Command, Ministry of Defense, Baghdad, Iraq. Following the completion of his service in 2006, he returned to the newly
formed Office of Air and Marine (OAM) to continue his Program Manager duties. In 2007, Mr. Lent served as the Chief of Staff for OAM until his appointment as Director, Air Operations at the Houston Air and
Marine Branch from 2008 - 2014. During 2013 - 2014, he served as the Acting Director, Air and Marine Operations for the regional Customs and Border Protection (CBP), South Texas Campaign (STC).
In this role, Mr. Lent was responsible for providing oversight, coordination, and direction of flight and float operations and support within the STC corridor.
Vice Director Lent has served in a breadth of operational, staff and command military assignments on active duty and in the Reserve. He has had a prominent career in both management and aviation,
accumulating over 3,600 hours of flight time in fixed and rotary-wing aircraft.
Vice Director Lent graduated from Stetson University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science in 1984. In 1999, he completed a Master of Arts degree in Management from Webster University.
He completed the Senior Executive Development Program from George Washington University and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government Senior Executive Fellows Program. Mr. Lent has been recognized with numerous
prestigious awards including the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medals, Army Commendation Medals, Joint Service Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medals, Iraqi Campaign Medals,
Joint Meritorious Unit Award, Army Superior Unit Award, Commissioner’s Unit Citation, and the USCS Academy Outstanding Performance and Academic Achievement Awards.
Colonel James R. Bortree is the Commander, Air Forces Southern Combined Air and Space Operations Center (AFSOUTH CAOC), Headquarters Twelfth Air Force (AFSOUTH), Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona. The AFSOUTH CAOC is responsible for the mission to plan,
task, execute, monitor, and assess air, space, and information operations in the US Southern Command area of focus. The AFSOUTH CAOC is comprised of the Combat Operations Division, Combat Plans Division, Strategy Division, Air Mobility Division,
and Intelligence, Reconnaissance, and Surveillance Division, as well as Weather, Communications, and Information Operations Specialty Teams. Before assuming his current position, Colonel Bortree served as the Chief, Combat Plans Division, Combined
Air and Space Operations Center for United States Central Air Forces. During this period, he was responsible for daily air planning for Operation IRAQI FREEDOM, NEW DAWN, ENDURING FREEDOM, and Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa.
Colonel Bortree graduated from California State University Northridge, with a degree in Electrical Engineering in 1989. He has served as a B-52 navigator, instructor navigator, instructor radar, flight commander, and the Wing Weapons Officer. He
graduated from the USAF Weapons Instructor Course in 1999. In 2002, he became the Chief of Doctrine, Policy, and Tactics for Air Force Information Operations. After completing Naval Postgraduate School in 2005, he attended the School of Advanced
Air and Space Studies. In 2006, he was assigned as the Chief of Long Range Plans and Strategy for US Central Air Forces, Shaw AFB, SC. He then assumed command of the 2nd Operational Support Squadron in March 2008. After completing his fellowship
at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in June of 2010, Colonel Bortree was assigned to the Combat Plans Division, 609th Combined Air and Space Operations Center.
Master Chief Daryl Bletso assumed the duties of the Command Master Chief for the JIATF South, Key West, FL, in August of 2012. As the Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Director and staff of JIATF South, Master Chief advises on workforce policies, is
the senior enlisted mentor, and acts as the sounding board for select administrative actions and initiatives relative to the day to day operations with the joint command structure. Most recently Master Chief served as the Command Master Chief for
the C4IT Service Center, Alexandria, VA from June 2009 through July 2012.
Master Chief Bletso enlisted in the Coast Guard in 1983 from Louisville, KY. His numerous assignments include: ET Rating Force Master Chief, CGHQ Washington, DC, TISCOM Alexandria VA, CGC POLAR STAR Seattle WA, Navigation Center Alexandria VA, Engineering
Logistics Center Baltimore MD, CGC TAHOMA New Bedford MA, TRACEN Petaluma as an ET School instructor, Navy Advanced Electronics “B” School San Diego CA, LORAN Station Estartit Spain, LORAN Station Attu Island AK, ET “A” School Governors Island NY, and CGC
JARVIS Honolulu HI.
Master Chief Bletso is a graduate of the Navy Senior Enlisted Academy (SEA), Class 104, in Newport, RI, the Senior Enlisted Leadership Course (SELC) in New London, CT, and the National Defense University Keystone Course, class 12-1. Master Chief Bletso
holds an Associate of Arts Degree in Electronics Technology.
Master Chief Bletso’s numerous military awards include two Coast Guard Meritorious Service Medals, one Coast Guard Commendation Medal, three Coast Guard Achievement Medals, two Commandant’s Letter of Commendation Ribbons, and the Coast Guard Permanent Cutterman’s Pin.