WASHINGTON — The joint task force responding to the devastating Maui wildfires is bringing the full weight of the Defense Department to the interagency effort, its deputy commander said.
Led by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, nearly 700 DOD personnel and 140 Coast Guardsmen are part of the coordinated response, as military members work alongside interagency partners and state and local officials.
But beyond personnel currently on the ground, Army Col. David Fielder, deputy commander of Joint Task Force 5-0, said the task force brings with it the capability to tap into and quickly field the full spectrum of military capabilities as the situation evolves.
"Gen. Flynn has the entire DOD presence supporting him," Fielder said of Army Gen. Charles A. Flynn, commanding general of U.S. Army Pacific.
Fielder said he consults on a nearly daily basis with local leaders who are amazed by what the DOD can offer. He said if there is a capability needed on the ground, the task force can reach back across the entire DOD to begin working a solution.
"If we can support it, we offer it up to FEMA," Fielder said. He said the task force has moved at unprecedented pace in supporting the interagency effort.
The task force is led by Army Brig. Gen. Stephen F. Logan, commander of the Hawaii Army National Guard. It was activated on Aug. 11 and reached full operational capacity five days later.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III designated Logan as the dual status commander of Joint Task Force 5-0 under U.S. Indo-Pacific Command on Aug. 12.
The Hawaii National Guard continues to operate traffic control points and provide security in support of local law enforcement. The National Guard is also providing response teams trained in hazardous material response.
Additionally, active components from the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines have all lent their support to the mission.
DOD personnel are currently conducting 8 eight approved mission assignments in support of FEMA:
- Operation of a Defense Coordinating Element office including liaison officers.
- Inter-island air/sea transportation for the movement of cargo, personnel, supplies and equipment.
- Use of Schofield Barracks to support facilities for billeting, life support and hygiene facilities for federal emergency responders.
- Strategic transportation of personnel and/or cargo.
- Standing by for aerial fire suppression.
- Use of U.S. Army Reserve Center – Wailuku and support as a FEMA Incident Support Base and a Federal Staging Area for FEMA.
- Fuel distribution operations in support of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers generator operations.
- Mortuary Affairs support.
Fielder said the task force is another reminder of the DOD's proven ability to quickly field resources needed to respond to any humanitarian situation throughout the globe. He also noted the Department's commitment to continue supporting local, state and federal emergency responders, however they may be needed.
Spotlight: Army Humanitarian Relief