By Sgt. Bethany Lynne Huff (99th RSC)December 4, 2018
JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. -- Providing Defense Support of Civil Authorities is one of the U.S. Army Reserve's top missions; ensuring units remain ready to provide that support is a key training objective.
Leading from the front, the U.S. Army Reserve's 99th Readiness Division partnered with USAR's 200th Military Police Command and 316th Expeditionary Support Command for the division's first multi-unit, weather-related DSCA exercise.
"There are many instances, especially in rural parts of FEMA Region III, where the National Guard may not be available for whatever reason or not geographically accessible to aid in an emergency," said Cpt. Alex Hazard, the DSCA FEMA Region III planner, for the U.S. Army Reserve Command.
The 99th DIV(R) has provided aid and established operations during major weather-related incidents such as Superstorm Sandy and Hurricane Florence, receiving the Army Superior Unit Awarded for its efforts during the former.
However, the division has never practiced the battle drills and rhythm of such events in coordination with supporting USAR units. When given the opportunity to go and test these capabilities with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, division representatives jumped at the chance.
Due to the regional alignment of the 99th Readiness Division, the defense coordinating element reached out to Hazard and the 99th DIV (R) to play in the FEMA fall exercise according to Hazard.
The 99th DIV(R) was given approximately 30 days of prior notice to prepare for Stonewall Jackson Imminent Breach 2018, which is the FEMA Region III 2018 fall exercise that focuses on mass care and emergency assistance efforts following a simulated major flooding event in West Virginia.
The exercise includes players from FEMA (notionally) as well as Soldiers from the 200th MP Commanded at Fort Meade, Maryland, and the 316th ESC in Coraopolis, Pennsylvania. Division representatives also coordinated with the Region III U.S. Army Reserve DSCA planner and the Defense Coordinating Element within FEMA Region III.
"It's critically important for the 99th to be part of this exercise because they are the property owner of all of the reserve centers within their footprint," said Hazzard. "They have a lot of equipment within the equipment concentration sites, they do a lot of the maintenance of the vehicles in the AMSA shops. And they provide other support to the functional commands within the footprint. For this particular exercise, under immediate response authority, a local mayor asked for a facility"
The 99th was one of the first-ever USAR units to exercise provisions contained within the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act that allowed the Army Reserve to provide DSCA, a role previously associated only with the National Guard.
The 99th DIV(R) stands ready to provide disaster support in several ways, to include utilizing Army Reserve facilities to serve as hubs for emergency responders and other government agencies, readying equipment such as power generators and water-purification systems at the division's maintenance facilities, and maintaining accountability of Soldiers throughout the affected area.
"In my personal opinion, the 99th is really doing a good job of stepping forward to engage in the DSCA arena. They're putting themselves out there to develop processes for DSCA in areas where there have been traditionally maybe some confusion or lack of good doctrine," said Hazard, a Newton, Pennsylvania native. "We have exercises like this to establish procedures and then apply those procedures in USARC policy to the other readiness divisions and have it be a template moving forward."