Army North responds to support federal response to oil spill
May 11, 2010
ROBERT, La. - Several Army North subordinate units deployed to various locations in the southeast United States to support the overall federal and commercial response for the Mississippi Canyon 252 Incident Response to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
The Defense Coordinating Officers and Elements from Regions IV and VI deployed to Mobile, Ala., and Robert, La., respectively, in support of the Unified Area Command.
Additional forces from Contingency Command Post 1, led by Maj. Gen. John Basilica, deployed to Robert as well to assist other federal agencies supporting local, state and private industry personnel.
"This is a unique situation where you have a private company requesting support from the federal government," said Lt. Gen. Guy Swan III, commanding general, U. S. Army North. "The dynamics are interesting - we need to capture observations for future operations."
The overall effort is being led by British Petroleum, with the U. S. Coast Guard leading the Administration-wide response effort.
"We are here to help," said Lt. Col. Perry Seawright, DCO, Region IV. "We plan and prepare every day with our local, state and federal partners for events like this, and we're fully integrated into the Coast Guard's response efforts.
For example, the first thing Region IV did, within six hours of hitting the ground, was coordinate Strategic Airlift of 6,000 feet of Boom from Travis Air Force Base, Calif., to Mobile, Ala. The boom was immediately deployed around Dolphin Island at the mouth of Mobile bay. Including flight time, this was done in 12 hours.
"That's what we can do - provide the right capability at the right time," said Seawright. "I couldn't ask for a better team of professionals in DCE IV."
This event marks the first time ARNORTH personnel have deployed to support a non-governmental agency as well as the extended deployment of a portion of a CCP.
Designed to command and control a task force, the oil spill mission, at this time, isn't one that is expected to require a great deal of land forces.
"We say it all the time, but truly, we're here to make others successful," said Basilica. "Our goal here is not to lead the charge but to help where we can. If that's strategic planning, assisting in the joint information center or wherever else - that's what we'll do."
Another difference between this operation and others that ARNORTH has deployed to is the process Department of Defense capabilities are requested.
"Normally, we receive a mission assignment from the primary agency," said Maj. John Depew, operations officer, DCO, Region VI. "However, in this case, we're working Requests for Assistance from the Coast Guard."