News: Service members, civilians work together to plan for disasters
Story by Lance Cpl. Sullivan Laramie
CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. - Planners for the Defense Support of Civil Authorities gathered for a two-day training event to discuss courses of action in the event of a state or national disaster in the United States here, July 18 and 19.
Service members from various commands such as Camp Lejeune, Marine Forces Reserve headquarters in New Orleans and the Alabama National Guard, as well as members of civilian agencies such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, attended the meeting to create an organized strategy for crisis response.
DSCA is the response of the Department of Defense to national disasters in which the DOD is called on by local and state governments to provide assistance within the United States. Units within the DOD do not normally deploy within the United States, so planning for a DSCA mission provides clear guidelines for acceptable use of military assets in civilian environments.
“We want to be able to support the local authorities with whatever it is they need and stabilize the area,” said Lt. Cmdr. Michael E. Stone, a planner for the Navy Expeditionary Combat Command. “Really specifically, what we want to do is help them get to a point where they’re back on their feet, in control and running things the way they’re used to running them.”
DSCA mission planners work with FEMA as a federal task force to assist local authorities. The Department of Defense can provide a very specific set of mission capabilities to fill a gap in a local or state response force. Although the DOD may have a large presence and more manpower during humanitarian efforts, the local or state incident commander would be in charge should a catastrophe strike.
“[The 2nd Marine Logistics Group] is designated as the lead planner for II Marine Expeditionary Force,” said Maj. William J. Horton, the 2nd MLG plans officer. “The majority of DSCA support [from II MEF] is coming from 2nd MLG, such as the transportation, water purification and fuel storage and distribution assets.”
In the event of a disaster, 2nd MLG will coordinate with 2nd Marine Division, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing and the II MEF headquarters group, as well as Naval Expeditionary Combat Command and Expeditionary Strike Group 2, to operate efficiently in different disaster-relief scenarios.
Along with natural events, which include hurricanes and wildfires, the DSCA planners also discussed appropriate reactions to riots and what steps military commanders can and cannot take in each event.
Later, the group discussed and reviewed each of the involved organizations’ roles and timelines during a generated scenario in which Alabama was heavily damaged by a hurricane.
“We’re ready to go,” said Col. Marc F. Riccio, the organization, training and operations officer for II MEF. “Within 14 hours [of Superstorm Sandy], we had Marines on the USS Wasp heading north to New York. I think we’re even more prepared this year and I think we’re ready to respond tomorrow if we have to.”