By Tim Wilson, Center for Army Lessons LearnedOctober 1, 2014
FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (October 1, 2014) --- It's only fitting that the Center for Army Lessons Learned (CALL) here was working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Office of Response and Recovery (ORR) at the end of August because September was National Preparedness Month in the United States. Emergency managers, federal and civilian want residents to be ready in the event of a disaster or major emergency. This year's theme focused on increasing emergency preparedness for everyone.
CALL is one of the oldest institutions in the Department of Defense that studies and distributes lessons and best practices in the United States Army, and to the nation's Unified Action partners. When the opportunity to work with FEMA arose, CALL jumped at the chance to share and train them in Army procedures and systems.
This is not the first exchange CALL has had with FEMA's Region VII, located in Kansas City. FEMA had previously linked Tim Wilson, a CALL Lessons Learned Course Instructor, with a Joint Field Office (JFO) covering floods at West Des Moines, Iowa in April 2010. CALL has also used these types of events to leverage information on disaster response support, produce Handbooks and Newsletters, and suggest how the Department of Defense can work to better support these types of operations.
Several months ago, ORR, FEMA's "operational arm of FEMA" that conducts readiness assessments and helps facilitate corrective actions/issue resolution, contacted CALL. ORR wanted to leverage CALL experience and processes to enhance their program, and was especially interested in adapting the Joint Lessons Learned Information System (JLLIS) to make some of their processes more streamlined and transparent.
Wilson synchronized the event with ORR, the Joint Staff J7 Lessons Learned section, FEMA Headquarters staff members and seven of ten FEMA regions for attendance and instruction.
FEMA organizations and the military have worked together for different exercises and contingency operations. Pick up any newspaper that is covering a tornado, flooding, or earthquake event and you will see the Army working hand in hand with our civilian and interagency partners. The Army calls this Defense Support of Civil Authorities (DSCA), and it is well documented in doctrine.
COL Paul Reese, the CALL Director, articulated the importance and priority. "Natural disasters are a critical time for all elements of the government to work together and anything we can do ahead of time to build relationships and the ability to work together, is critical."
Wilson provided an update on the Army Lessons Learned Process, and the recently increased lessons learned responsibilities in the Army based on what the Army has learned after fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. Adapting and formalizing these procedures and systems will help share these lessons and best practices quicker. An updated Army Regulation 11-33 will be published in the next several months which will drive change in the organization and management of Lessons Learned programs and information. JLLIS will become the system of record that all services, interagency, intergovernmental organizations will utilize to share these lessons and best practices.
Reese reiterated, "having one system for everyone to use and rapidly share information will streamline how we grow and learn as organizations."
The JLLIS training was conducted at the National Weather Service Training Center in Tiffany Springs, Missouri. CALL's Steve Humes provided the majority of the training on the system and its wide variety of capabilities. The session also focused on specific portions of issue resolution that have a direct impact on what ORR and the Regions were currently conducting. Participants were surprised at the ease of the system and the practical uses as part of a pilot program with ORR.
Conducting such training sessions with interagency, intergovernmental or multinational organizations and units is not a new occurrence for CALL. It is extremely important to be able to help U.S. citizens in times of emergency or disaster. Joint training opportunities with Federal agencies are always of value and help build a great working relationship so, in case of a civil issue, the Army can support to the greatest degree.
CALL facilitates the Army's lessons learned program by identifying, collecting, analyzing, disseminating, and archiving issues and best practices; and by maintaining situational awareness in order to share knowledge throughout the Army. Its web site is http://usacac.army.mil/cac2/CALL/ .