Friday July 13, 2012
What is it?
Embedded within Army North, Task Force 51 is a deployable command post designated to assist local, state and federal responders with disasters in the United States. Task Force 51 (TF 51) matured over time from wearing many "hats" to become a full-time all-hazards response task force with far reaching capabilities to command and control Department of Defense forces in support of a lead federal agency responding to a natural or manmade disaster.
What has the Army done?
In 2005, TF-51 was still a few years away from its current structure and organization. However, the concept of a deployable headquarters to command and control DOD forces responding to a disaster in the homeland was well on the way. The initial concept was tested when Hurricane Katrina devastated communities along the Gulf Coast and the city of New Orleans was besieged by flood waters rising in the storm's aftermath. The successful DOD response to Katrina has been well documented, and one of the key lessons learned was the need for a task force that could deploy quickly to command and control DOD's efforts in support of the lead federal agency. Since Katrina, TF-51 has deployed under different concepts anticipating state and local needs following natural disasters. In October of 2007 the team deployed to California to provide assistance after wild fires wreaked havoc in the southern part of the state. Most recently, the team deployed to New Jersey to provide anticipated support to the Northeastern United States as Hurricane Irene pounded the area last summer.
What efforts does the Army plan to continue in the future?
The Army supports TF-51 with the personnel and equipment necessary to maintain a standing all hazards response force focused on the homeland. As the capabilities grow so does the mission requirements; ARNORTH is continuing to upgrade the command and control systems used by TF51 to maintain interoperability with its Federal and State agencies along with the subordinate units who support operations. It is in collaboration and cooperation with other DOD agencies to ensure we provide the right response, at that right time to the lead federal agency responding to the disaster.
Why is this important to the Army?
Although its size and composition has taken on various modifications since its conception, the one constant for TF-51 is the ability to quickly deploy and support local, state and federal officials who have seen catastrophic disasters exceed their capabilities.
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