REISTERSTOWN, Md. - From more than 1,500 miles away, about 10 Maryland National Guard and Defense Force personnel went operational Jan 15 to support earthquake recovery efforts in Puerto Rico with a joint Unclassified Processing, Analysis and Dissemination, otherwise known as "UPAD," team.

The support effort comes after a string of earthquakes struck Puerto Rico over the past two weeks, killing one person and damaging at least 800 homes island-wide.

Marking it as the first real-world response the MDNG's joint UPAD has performed, the team was able to assist emergency managers in Puerto Rico with about a dozen unclassified intelligence products showing dam and base camp viability assessments, imagery analysis and identification of viable traffic control points with regards to the areas most affected by the earthquakes and aftershocks.

"The MDNG UPAD is one of 15 across the National Guard and the first to employ a joint manning concept," said Army Maj. Tracy J. Sullins, MDNG deputy director of intelligence.

A UPAD team works in an unclassified environment while remotely supporting domestic operations anywhere in the 54 states and territories.

Sullins explained that by incorporating geographic information system layers, satellite imagery, full-motion videos and still photos and other open-source data, a UPAD team produces graphic and narrative products to support predictive analysis and inform critical decisions by leaders at all levels in the impacted areas.

The MDNG UPAD used the Domestic Operations Awareness and Assessment Response Tool, or "DAART," to enhance communication abilities during the response efforts.

Using DAART enabled the UPAD to provide useful products to Federal, State, Local, and Tribal communities, providing them the ability to be more informed and make a more collaborative-based decision of the affected area.

UPAD is part of the Incident Awareness and Assessment process, which is designed to synchronize and integrate the planning and operations of various information capabilities during a domestic emergency.

"IAA provides situational awareness and assessment to staff personnel, senior leadership, and the incident management teams in support of domestic operations," Sullins said. "By doing this, we can help save lives, mitigate suffering, minimize property damage, and protect critical infrastructure."