Army North hosts logistics conference for disaster response planners
April 30, 2012
SAN ANTONIO, Texas - Local, state and federal emergency planners and logisticians met in San Antonio for a three-day conference hosted by U.S. Army North to promote mutual understanding and foster greater preparedness for disasters in the United States.
More than 150 planners and logisticians from the Department of Defense, the U.S. Coast Guard, the National Guard, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the County of San Diego, Calif., Office of Emergency Services, attended Army North's 2012 Joint Force Land Component Command Logistics Conference from April 17-19 in downtown San Antonio.
"What we are doing here is bringing logistics professionals from all parts of the logistics arena to de-conflict issues to ensure that we can quickly and efficiently get resources and support to citizens in a time of crisis," said Maj. Gen. Charles Gailes Jr., commander, Task Force 51, Army North.
The conference focused on refining and synchronizing logistics concepts of support, from U.S. Northern Command through Army North down to the task force level, with a focus on no-notice and complex catastrophes.
"It's all about bringing lifesaving capability to the homeland," said Col. Russell Livingston, senior logistics analyst, Army North. "We must be prepared to support the unique needs of 54 states, territories and districts in the United States."
Logisticians discussed many challenges that they face, including the need for better in-transit visibility and force tracking requirements across agencies involved in disaster response, plans to enhance defense coordinating elements as the focal point for regional coordination, plans to create a more unified medical supply chain, and the need for logistical operations inclusion in training events.
"It's a great effort to connect the dots across the whole spectrum of logistics operations," said Command Sgt. Maj. James Spencer, senior enlisted leader, U.S. Army Sustainment Command.
Civilian agencies may rely on military support during disasters, and the conference enabled civilian logisticians and their military counterparts to better understand each other's requirements and capabilities, said Eric Smith, assistant administrator for logistics management, FEMA.
"We realize the mission of disaster response is a shared responsibility," Smith said. "Military support is vitally important. The technical expertise and depth of resources that the DoD brings is essential."
For the National Guard, which can serve as military first responders to a disaster, or as state forces, or as federal forces, logistics can get complex, said Maj. Gen. Barry Coln, director of logistics, National Guard Bureau.
"The conference offered an opportunity to work towards better standardization in budget, time and equipment requirements and procurement and sustainment cycles between the Guard, federal forces and civilian agencies," said Coln. "The main benefit is getting to discuss logistics issues directly with our counterparts at Army North, Northern Command, the U.S. General Services Administration, the Defense Logistics Agency and other commands and agencies."
U.S. Coast Guard Rear Adm. Rick Gromlich, director of operational logistics, said the conference allowed logisticians and planners the opportunity to discuss challenges and lessons learned to improve the nation's response to disasters and complex catastrophes.
"The leaders here encompass almost the whole spectrum of government logistics," said Gromlich. "We are able to develop relationships and share how each entity performs its mission and we can figure out how to best partner and leverage our resources and capabilities."
He said many missions, such as search and rescue operations in Alaska, require partnerships and close relationships between the Coast Guard, the Department of Defense and other agencies, and conferences like Army North's 2012 JFLCC Logistics Conference ensure that lifesaving care will be available when needed.