News: Gen. Jacoby remembers MAFFS airmen, praises National Guard contributions, dual-status commanders
Story by Sgt. 1st Class Jim Greenhill
WASHINGTON – Air National Guard members killed fighting wildfires in 2012 were remembered during U.S. Senate testimony today as U.S. Northern Command’s commander praised the National Guard’s contributions in his area of responsibility.
Army Gen. Charles Jacoby made a point of reminding Senate Armed Services Committee members of the sacrifice of four citizen-airmen who died and two who were seriously injured when a Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System equipped C-130 Hercules military transport aircraft crashed during the 2012 wildfire season.
Jacoby testified at a hearing on the posture of his command related to the nation’s defense budget for fiscal year 2014, which begins Oct. 1.
“We lost some Guardsmen this year fighting fires,” Jacoby reminded senators. “Brave men and women of the North Carolina Air National Guard, 145th Airlift Wing. [It] reminds us that even supporting our citizens in the homeland can be a dangerous activity. [We] really appreciate the sacrifices that those airmen and their families made on that behalf.”
Air Force Lt. Col. Paul K. Mikeal, Maj. Joseph M. McCormick, Maj. Ryan S. David and Senior Master Sgt. Robert S. Cannon died after the July 1, 2012, crash as they battled a South Dakota wildfire.
The “National Guard is a great partner across all of my mission sets … from homeland defense, where principally Guard units fly the Noble Eagle mission in defense of our skies 24/7, [to] our missile defense, [where] the 100th Brigade mans the command-and-control facilities for our missile launch capabilities,” Jacoby testified.
“In defense support to civil authorities … every day the Guard not only meets the needs of the citizens in the states, but [is] also available to support regionally through their emergency management capabilities,” he said.
Jacoby also said the use of dual-status commanders will continue.
When agreed upon by the secretary of defense and the governor of an affected state, dual-status commanders can direct both federal active duty forces and state National Guard forces in response to domestic incidents. The unity of effort is intended to foster greater cooperation among federal and state military assets during a disaster.
“We’ll continue to mature the successful dual-status command construct,” Jacoby said, “so that we will be ready to act swiftly and with unity of effort when the unthinkable happens and we are called.”
According to Defense Department officials:
The nation's governors led the creation of this new opportunity for collaboration. Dual-status commanders ensure that state and federal military forces work together effectively when states request federal forces. Through this improved partnership, military forces are better able to avoid duplication of effort and support the needs of the incident and the American people.
The dual-status commander concept was codified in 2011, with 10 USC - 12304 as the usual and customary command and control arrangement for missions involving the simultaneous deployment of active duty, Reserve and National Guard forces in support of civilian authorities during major disasters and other emergencies.
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