News: 36th Inf. Div. led Domestic Response Team supports Vigilant Guard
Story by Capt. Adam Musil
MUSKOGEE, Okla. - The 36th Infantry Division’s Domestic All Hazards Response Team-West put their processes to the test, April 15-19, during Vigilant Guard Arkansas 2013, an Arkansas National Guard-led first responder training exercise designed to evaluate the military and civilian response to a simulated earthquake.
The 36th Inf. Div. assumed command and control of the of the National Guard’s DARM-W in October of 2012. The mission requires the division to synchronize the National Guard response to major hurricanes, earthquakes, wildfires, and flooding should such a catastrophic event occur west of the Mississippi River.
The DARM-W has three primary mission tasks during a catastrophic incident: force packaging, assisting with command and control, and conducting a joint reception, staging, onward movement, and integration operation for an interagency response (JRSOI). Soldiers of the DARM-W team used the Vigilant Guard exercise to internally validate their JRSOI processes. Providing the majority of the workload for the operation was the 149th Personnel Company, 36th Sustainment Brigade, 36th Inf. Div. based in Wichita Falls.
From the outside, the JRSOI process appears to be little more than the standard procedure mobilizing military personnel encounter when preparing for an operation. However, there are subtle differences that DARM-W leadership believes can lead to the success or failure of a Homeland Response Force mission.
“We are not simply processing service members as you would in a standard Soldier Readiness Process. We are processing a wide variety of first responders, from uniformed service members, civilians, and local fire fighters. All of these individuals are catalogued in separate computer systems and if we don’t properly account for these men and women, we cannot give the Task Force Commander the proper manpower and capabilities he needs to complete his mission,” said Maj. Justin Trodahl, JRSOI officer in charge.
The JRSOI process includes logging all first responders into the DARM-W tracking system, conducting operational and procedural briefings, and issuing key guidance to help the support personnel accomplish their mission. During this process, Trodahl tracks how long it takes a first responder to complete the entire circuit, noting delay points that can be improved with later iterations.
“I feel if this were a real world event our team would be ready,” said Sgt. Camisa Austin, Team Leader, 149th Personnel Company, 36th Sus. Brig. “We did have to adjust a few of our processes when some of the civilian first responders came through. We were not able to scan them into the Department of Defense system so we had to manually enter them. It’s not a difficult process if you make sure your tracking system is in place and you ensure the spreadsheets are loaded correctly. When it gets busy, it’s important to stay vigilant with our tracking and not skip any steps. Otherwise, we could easily lose someone.”
Assisting Maj. Trodahl and his team were uniformed service members from various states and units. Six different states participated in the exercise, including, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Indiana, Kentucky, and Louisiana.
“The Texas folks have been very professional and helpful during the exercise, said Lt. Col. Dave Allen, Deputy Personnel Officer, Joint Task-Force Headquarters-Arkansas. “The JRSOI process is running smooth and working with Texas has been very educational for the Arkansas Forces.”
In total, the JRSOI team successfully tracked, categorized and logged more than 1,000 service members in support of Vigilant Guard.
“The exercise was a huge success and proved to our team that we can process soldiers and civilians a timely and efficient manner,” said Trodahl. At the end of the day, the quicker we manage the output of first responders the more we can help the civilian population. And that is what matters most.”