Monday July 27, 2009
What is it?
Lightning Rescue 09 is the U.S. Pacific Command's Joint Task Force - Homeland Defense (JTF-HD) sponsored joint-interagency Pandemic Influenza (PI) preparedness and response exercise that focuses on Defense Support of Civil Authorities (DSCA) in response to a PI situation in the state of Hawaii. The exercise provides an opportunity for joint civil-military response planning and training to validate and synchronize federal, state and local agencies' PI preparedness plans, and to exercise coordinated efforts in responding to a PI outbreak in Hawaii and across the Pacific.
What has the Army done?
JTF-HD in conjunction with interagency organizations is conducting Lightning Rescue 09 beginning July 27 in various locations on Oahu and continues through July 31 ending with a subject matter expert exchange between JTF-HD and PI planners from Honolulu city and county, Kauai, Maui, and Hawaii counties.
The exercise is a joint effort of over 20 organizations, DoD installations, and interagency partners. It will assess and exercise the PI plans and capabilities of all these organizations, while providing the opportunity to train in medical response, disaster planning and conduct interagency communications.
Additionally, foreign delegates from Japan and Vietnam will participate as observers to collect lessons learned for their own disaster management planning efforts. These delegates will also be afforded the opportunity to share with us some their planning considerations and experiences during the course of the week.
The exercise begins with DoD managers from each military installation coordinating their Installation Bio-Preparedness Plans with an emphasis on mitigating strategies. This will be followed by a table top exercise where a PI scenario will drive a joint/interagency exercise that will be facilitated by PI subject matter experts from the state of Hawaii Department of Health, Center for Disease Control, and DoD service components.
Why is this important to the Army?
Pandemic influenza is a real threat. Exercising cooperation and coordination between DoD and our interagency partners to conduct Defense Support of Civil Authorities operations is essential for our nation. Preparing now can limit the severity of a pandemic and save lives.
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"It is not just 140 Soldiers who committed suicide last year, it's all those others out there who will never commit suicide but who are suffering and need our help...this is the big idea."
- Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, at the Army Medical Symposium, July 21, in San Antonio, Texas, emphasized on "mental wellness" through a multidisciplinary approach.
"This is more and more a family focused organization. It's important to get Soldiers to understand that the Army really cares. We're in the people business. And, for a first sergeant, the most important thing is taking care of their Soldiers and the families that support them. If it wasn't for my wife, there is no possible way I could be a Soldier."
- 1st Sgt. Terrence Hamil, acting command sergeant major for the 832nd Ordnance Battalion and Army's 2009 recipient of the 1st Sgt. John Ordway Leadership Award
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