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    New York National Guard Exercises its Emergency-response Command Skills as part of Ardent Sentry 17

    New York National Guard tests skills in Ardent Sentry

    Photo By Master Sgt. Raymond Drumsta | Sgt. 1st Class Michael Giarrusso, a 42nd Infantry Division operations NCO (left), and...... read more read more



    Story by Master Sgt. Raymond Drumsta 

    New York National Guard

    TROY, N.Y. -- The New York National Guard tested it's emergency-response planning skills in Ardent Sentry 17, a national-level emergency response staff exercise that took place at locations throughout the northeast states from April 24 to 28.

    About 80 New York National Guard staff troops took part in the exercise, which was based around a scenario involving a nuclear detonation on the New Jersey side of the Lincoln Tunnel.

    New York National Guard personnel manned command posts at 42nd Infantry Division headquarters in Troy and at the New York National Guard headquarters in Latham, N.Y.

    Ardent Sentry is an annual U.S. Northern Command (US NORTHCOMM) exercise focused on defense support to civil authorities.

    Federal, state and local officials, including New York State emergency managers and the New York City Office of Emergency Management, also took part in the exercise.

    Federal Emergency Management Agency and Army North personnel set up operations centers at New York National Guard headquarters as part of the training exercise.

    The New York Army National Guard’s 42nd Infantry Division, which commands the Federal Emergency Management Agency Region II Homeland Response Force (HRF), provided the core of staff personnel for the New York National Guard’s part in Ardent Sentry.

    The staff exercise will be followed by a full-scale exercise for the Region II HRF in Fort Dix, New Jersey from April 28 to 30.

    The HRF is a 1,200 Soldier/Airman unit whose members are trained to conduct search and rescue, decontamination and medical treatment operations when a chemical, nuclear, radiological, or biological weapon is involved in an incident.

    The staff personnel, who would fall under a construct called the “Dual-status Command” during an actual disaster, used the exercise to practice marshalling simulated state and federal forces to save lives, prevent damage and reduce suffering.

    Along with about 2,000 active-duty troops, these simulated forces included 12,000 New York National Guard troops, and 4,000 National Guard troops from nearby states.

    The command posts staffers worked through the issues involved in providing food and water to hundreds of thousands of people, providing rescue and decontamination services, along with supplying thousands of troops in the field.

    At the top of this construct is the Dual-Status Commander (DSC), a National Guard officer who is authorized to command both National Guard military forces under the governor’s command, and federal military forces under the president’s command.

    Dual-status commanders can direct both federal active-duty forces and state National Guard forces in response to domestic incidents. The concept is intended to foster greater cooperation among federal and state assets during a disaster. The New York National Guard stood up a dual-status commander in 2012 during the state response to Superstorm Sandy.

    The DSC for the April exercise was New York Air National Guard Brig. Gen. Timothy LaBarge. An event like the one the exercise scenario was based on would be “the worst day in U.S. history,” he said.

    “It’s going to take the whole of the government, and the whole of society, to address it,” stressed LaBarge, who is also the New York Air National Guard chief of staff.

    Soldiers and Airmen from Joint Forces Headquarters and field units, along with NORTHCOMM and other personnel, augmented the 42nd Infantry Division troops to make up the DSC staff.

    “That fills out that brain-trust trying to make sense out of the fog of war accompanying this catastrophe,” LaBarge said.

    During the exercise, the DSC staff were continually performing command tasks such as receiving reports, updating and assessing information and using the simulated National Guard, state and federal forces to provide a scaled response to the disaster.

    This included moving forces in and out of the disaster area, based on factors like the forces’ rest, recuperation and decontamination needs. It also involved marshalling specific forces best suited to carry out particular mission assignments, tracking their progress until they completed the mission, then moving them back to their assembly areas.

    “We simply look for a capability and try to resource it from whatever forces we have out there,” LaBarge explained. “Everybody is trying to help. The whole purpose of this is to achieve unity of effort. The DSC construct achieves unity of effort through unity of command.”

    LaBarge gave the DSC staff high marks. The exercise kicked off with the nuclear detonation, and the staff began generating intelligence and other information products “mere hours after the blast,” LaBarge said.

    “They’re providing unbelievable support,” he said.

    LaBarge commanded New York Air National Guard units during the New York National Guard’s response to Hurricane Irene and Superstorm Sandy. LaBarge also praised New York Army National Guard Brig. Gen. Michael Swezey, who was the dual-status commander during Superstorm Sandy.

    “We saw the fits and starts, and the successes,” he recalled. One of the main lessons from Superstorm Sandy is that it’s crucial to “find out what the actual ground truth is” during a disaster.

    “Information is going to be challenging,” LaBarge stressed. “You have to keep asking the same questions to make sure we’re all acting from the same information starting-point.”

    The other big lesson – which speaks to unity of effort, and unity of command – is “don’t be parochial.”

    “Our job is not to fight for our parochial interests, but to get resources there to save lives and prevent suffering,” LaBarge said.




    Date Taken: 04.27.2017
    Date Posted: 04.28.2017 04:51
    Story ID: 231825
    Location: TROY, NY, US 

    Web Views: 103
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