News: Training for disaster
Story by Adrian Rowan
JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. - Clouds gathered in the distance, painting the sky an inky black. Thunder rumbled while lightning flashed on the scene of inhabitants fleeing the coastal towns of New Jersey. The fear of the crowd mounted, as Superstorm Sandy brewed a storm so violent it decimated our beautiful shores. Those evacuees, forced from their beloved homes, felt helpless; wondering where to go, where to find a meal, fresh clothing, a hot shower. Their lives were in an upheaval, but the state banded together to provide for its people.
In the aftermath of Sandy, many members of the New Jersey Air National Guard volunteered to assist with cleanup, security details, and many other tasks to help victims. These selfless Guard members were part of the Quick Reaction Force.
Consequently, during September’s 2013 Unit Training Assembly or better known as drill weekend, members of the 108th Wing and 177th Fighter Wing, Atlantic City, N.J., sacrificed their time and joined forces to undertake QRF training. More than 150 members attended the training, which involved an array of skills taught by Sgts. 1st Class Todd Friedman Tim Hoke, Barry Douglass, and Staff Sgt. David Crenshaw, all members of U.S. Army 2nd Battalion, 254th Regiment, Sea Girt, N.J.
For those of us not familiar with QRF, the U.S. Army Combined Arms Center defines it as any force that is poised to respond on very short notice, typically less than 15 minutes. One of the instructors, Hoke, explained further, stating that QRF teams are trained to deal with civil disturbances, site security, roadblocks/checkpoints, and vehicle and personnel searches. Hoke also said that every state is mandated to have a QRF consisting of 200 personnel.
The course, taught during the weekend, is normally a week long course, but this shortened version is intended to familiarize Guard personnel with tasks involved with a National Guard reaction force.
Hoke said, “This class gives basic knowledge, which will serve as a foundation for those attending the full course.”
During the training, members were initially briefed and prepared via power point, then their skills were tested in hands-on situations. The instructors had four training areas, focusing on each component of the QRF. Members alternated through each scenario throughout the day, learning about each aspect.
An attendee, Senior Airman Seth Schoenfeld, Emergency Management, 108th Civil Engineers, volunteered for this training. Schoenfeld, who was activated for a month during Hurricane Sandy, said he feels the training would have been beneficial for those members tasked with Sandy support and that he hopes to learn more advanced skills to deal with civil disturbances.
QRF has enabled our forces to be more resilient and able to adapt to more situations. It has taught our members skills necessary to handle devastating events, such as Sandy and that’s what some of these Guard members did almost a year ago.