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Rear Admiral Steephen 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.
Brigadier General Steven J. DePalmer assumed the duties of Deputy Director for Joint Interagency Task Force South in August of 2012.
His previous general officer tours included Vice Commander, 14th Air Force and Deputy Commander & Chief of Staff of the NATO Joint Warfare Centre.
A native of Manchester, Maryland, he is a 1985 Distinguished Graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy with a degree in Electrical Engineering. He attended the NATO Defense College, Air Command and Staff College and has a
Master of Airpower Arts and Science Degree from the School of Advanced Airpower Studies.
A command pilot with more than 3,000 hours in the F-15C, F-15E, AT-38B, T-38 and T-37, he served as an instructor pilot and squadron weapons officer. He commanded the 494th Fighter squadron, Royal Air Force, Lakenheath, England;
the 32nd Air Operations Group, Ramstein Air Base, Germany and the 53rd Wing, Eglin Air Force Base, Florida.
Brigadier General DePalmer’s awards include the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit and the Distinguished Flying Cross.
Mr. David H. Lent assumed the duties of Vice Director for Joint Interagency Task Force South (JIATF) South in March of 2014.
Vice Director Lent is a combat veteran with over 29 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 is 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 active 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.
Colonel Bortree is married to the former Beth Horsager of Bismarck, ND. They have two children, Emma and JR.
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.
During his aviation career Master Chief Murphy has logged just under 5000 flight hours on HC-130H aircraft.
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.