Army North exercises hurricane response capacity
April 29, 2011
FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas (Army News Service, April 29, 2011) -- It was back to basics for military disaster response personnel here as they set up a joint operations center to coordinate the Department of Defense response to a simulated Category 4 hurricane in Mississippi.
During a week-long hurricane exercise, April 18-22 at the Armed Forces Reserve Center on Fort Sam Houston's Camp Bullis Military Training Reservation, personnel from U.S. Army North's Joint Support Force - 51, or JSF-51, coordinated with role players, who acted as local, state and federal disaster response officials.
Together, participants exercised their ability to provide lifesaving and life-sustaining defense support for the notional victims of "Hurricane Fernando," which "struck" near Biloxi, Miss.
"This hurricane exercise is just what we needed to prepare for the upcoming hurricane season," said Lt. Col. Kem Flemming, operations officer, JSF-51.
One of the participants was Capt. Anthony Roh, an operations officer for the Provost Marshal Office, JSF-51, who previously served as a company commander at Fort Drum, N.Y.
"I think (the exercise) is a great opportunity for me to get a higher headquarters' perspective and get experience in domestic civil support operations," said Roh, whose role in the exercise was to conduct threat assessments and coordinate with local law enforcement.
During the course of the week, support force members coordinated "requests" from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and defense coordinating officers for search and rescue missions, medical evacuations, clearing and repairing roads and bridges.
Additionally, they were also asked for help in providing logistics and relief supplies to responders and civilians, providing satellite and communications support, stocking emergency shelters, and many other missions that the DoD has unique capabilities for accomplishing quickly in lifesaving and life-sustaining operations.
"I feel very confident we can execute our mission if called upon," said Sgt. Maj. Eliodoro Perez, operations sergeant major, JSF-51. "We just need to take it to the next level."
The exercise also served as preparation for an upcoming national-level exercise in August, Vibrant Response 12.2. During that exercise, more than 3,000 military and civilian disaster responders from across the nation will join forces to train at Camp Atterbury and the Muscatatuck Urban Training Complex in Indiana.