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    Mississippi more prepared for natural disaster after exercise



    Story by Sgt. Scott Tynes 

    102d Public Affairs Detachment

    CAMP SHELBY, Miss. – It’s been nearly 20 years since Hurricane Katrina ripped through Mississippi with high winds and lashing sheets of rain causing billions of dollars in structural damage and impossible-to-calculate emotional costs. Those memories drove the Soldiers and Airmen of Joint Task Force Trident, most of whom weathered the storm, during Patriot South 2020 Feb. 28 to March 6.

    Patriot South is a Domestic Operations (DOMOPS) disaster-response training exercise conducted by National Guard units working with federal, state and local emergency management agencies and first responders.

    The scenario for the fourth Patriot South exercise held in Mississippi was a simulated Category 4 hurricane, named Amber, making landfall near Gulfport and devastating the state’s coastal region with colossal damage as it passed north through the state as a tropical storm. Most of the training sites were in Mississippi, but it was also conducted at sites in Georgia and Tennessee.

    The mission of JTF Trident, led by the Mississippi National Guard’s 66th Troop Command, is to conduct mission command of National Guard units conducting security operations; assisting in search and rescue missions; hospital evacuation; removing debris from lines of communication; hazardous material identification and removal; providing communications support; conducting commodity distribution; and conducting other Defense Support to Civil Authority (DSCA) operations.

    “Patriot South is a great joint training opportunity that allows not only Mississippi Army and Air Guardsmen to train together, but we also have an opportunity to train with Guardsmen from other states here in Mississippi as we prepare for hurricane season,” said Brig. Gen. Stan Boudraitis, commander of JTF Trident and 66th TC. “It’s also a phenomenal opportunity for us to work with our civilian partners from the federal, state and local levels.”

    Nearly 700 National Guard members from nearly 20 states participated alongside first responders and emergency partners from the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, Helicopter Aquatic Rescue Team, Team Rubicon, Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks Emergency Response Team, and many others.

    “We start planning early – a year in advance typically,” said Lt. Col. Joy Alexander, chief of staff of 66th TC. “We start putting together the (Standard Operating Procedures) based on what we’ve done previously, putting the staff together and rehearsing battle drills. Those who have not actually attended the (Joint Operations Center) training course, which is usually about half to a third of our people, will come attend the course and integrate with those who are experienced from previous exercises, such as Ardent Sentry or previous Patriot South exercises. They can share those experiences with the newly trained staff on JOC procedures and processes as the exercise is going on.”

    Task force elements were also able to take advantage of the unique training opportunities provided by the Guardian Centers of Perry, Ga. The Perry campus can create realistic disaster landscapes, including a severely damaged and flooded city, complete with wrecked vehicles and structures for rescuers to conduct search and rescue, aquatic and dry roof rescue, and other emergency missions.

    “The training that we are able to accomplish here … we can replicate pretty much every scenario that we will run through whether we’re talking a flood, extracting off of rooftops, or isolated personnel. It allows us to consolidate all those training events to one single, solitary training environment,” said Maj. Chris Foley, commander of Co. C, 2nd Battalion, 151st Aviation Brigade, Louisiana Army National Guard.

    One of the key lessons learned during Hurricane Katrina is that readiness and planning are essential to an efficient and appropriate response. Training like Patriot South 2020 is an invaluable aid in preparing the state and its federal and regional partners for the next major natural disaster.



    Date Taken: 03.09.2020
    Date Posted: 04.13.2020 08:36
    Story ID: 365342
    Location: HATTIESBURG, MS, US 
    Hometown: CAMP SHELBY, MS, US
    Hometown: HATTIESBURG, MS, US

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