WASHINGTON (Army News Service, May 30, 2008) -- Hurricane season begins in June and U.S. Army North has been planning in order to anticipate the needs of federal, state and local partners and speed any military response to those affected by natural disasters.

ARNORTH is the Army component to U.S. Northern Command and has the mission to conduct Defense Support of Civil Authorities operations in the response to natural or manmade disasters in the continental United States.

ARNORTH conducted the Army's Rehearsal of Concept exercise recently at Fort Belvoir, Va., in preparation for this year's hurricane season.

The rehearsal allowed Department of the Army and ARNORTH staffs, defense coordinating officers and other emergency management professionals to review and synchronize actions the Army would take in response to hurricane scenarios.

"The rehearsal provides a venue to bring together many of the key federal and state entities and go over our roles and responsibilities in disaster response in preparation for hurricane season," said Col. Lou Vogler, chief of future operations for ARNORTH.

That includes ensuring states will have the equipment they need to respond, said Col. Carl Turner, Department of the Army Operations and Readiness Directorate.

"The Army recognizes that because of the high operational tempo, some Army National Guard units may not have all of their equipment available for hurricane response," he said. "That's why we have developed a comprehensive equipping strategy in coordination with the National Guard Bureau to source hurricane-prone States during the critical storm season."

Since its activation in October 2005, ARNORTH has been working to increase the close working relationships with consequence managers at all levels. As part of that effort, Defense Coordinating Officers work daily in each of the 10 Federal Emergency Management Agency regions with federal, state and local responders.

"Our mission is to support a response agency with Department of Defense specific and unique capabilities to prevent loss of life and human suffering within our homeland," said Col. Robert E. Freehill, ARNORTH's defense coordinating officer, collocated with Federal Emergency Management Agency Region II.

U.S. Army North coordinates closely with these agencies to conduct planning, conferences and exercises designed to share information and synchronize an effective, efficient response in support of our own citizens, he said.

"Hurricane preparedness is of extreme importance," Freehill said. "It is up to America's service members and the civilian agencies they work with to help and protect Americans."