CAMP SMITH TRAINING SITE, N.Y. - Thirty-four members of the New York Army and Air National Guard and the New York Guard learned the latest techniques in domestic operations planning from a U.S. Northern Command mobile training team Sept. 10-11.
The Joint Staff Training Course instructors used case studies from National Guard responses to emergencies across the country to illustrate the best ways to apply the military’s joint operations procedures to domestic missions.
“We take the best practices we learned from many different states and bring them to the courses we teach,“ said Scott Nelson, deputy branch chief, Homeland Defense Resiliency Training Branch.
Northern Command provides military support for state and local governments during domestic emergencies in the United States.
Participants reviewed how National Guard organizations across different states coordinated joint operations. One of the case studies used in the class was a 2014 mudslide in Oso, Washington, that killed 43 people and destroyed 49 homes.
“We looked at how the state responded compared to how the National Guard responded,“ said Army Capt. Keith Bermudez. “In that case, the National Guard wasn’t called in until three to four days after the mudslide happened.
“As someone who works in intelligence with no experience conducting domestic operations, this class was really useful, because there are a lot of differences between doing joint domestic and overseas operations,” he said.
During the joint planning process, or JPP for short, most of the doctrine used to create defensive strategies stemmed from the military decision-making process the Army uses, Nelson said.
As a result, teaching the process to other components, like the Air National Guard, means teaching some of the terminologies to Airmen.
“We teach the JPP going through Army terminologies for the other components with our main focus being mission analysis, which is the most important piece of the JPP, because if you don’t understand the mission, and you don’t understand the operational environment, you’re gonna fail,” Nelson said.
Nelson said there are 54 ways to develop a mission strategy based on the intelligence gathered from all 54 National Guard organizations in the 50 states, three territories and the District of Columbia.
He said geography, state culture, and leadership are some of the factors used in developing strategies for domestic defense.
“One example is 9/11 and how it changed how we viewed homeland defense,” said Maj. Russell Bouillion, one of the instructors. “We want to be able to take what we learned from the [New York National Guard] during that crisis and go to another state, tell them, ‘New York did it this way — that method might help you.’”
By referencing the best practices used in each state, the efficiency and effectiveness of the country’s homeland defense can be improved, he added.
“There is military doctrine we must follow in order to understand the foundation of the planning process. From there, you can build your plan and your standard operating procedures,” Bouillion said. “Your SOPs and your plans will be catered to what your operational experiences have been like.”