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    Florida Army National Guard nerve centers coordinate Hurricane Ian response efforts

    Florida Army National Guard nerve centers coordinate Hurricane Ian response efforts

    Photo By Sgt. 1st Class Shane Klestinski | Army Sgt. Maj. Gregory Mirones (left), senior operations noncommissioned officer, and...... read more read more



    Story by Sgt. 1st Class Shane Klestinski 

    50th Regional Support Group

    During hurricane season, the Florida Army National Guard (FLARNG) expects to be called up for state active duty. Soldiers living in the Sunshine State generally understand that it’s only a matter of when – not if – they will be activated every year, usually sometime between June and November.

    Days prior to a hurricane making landfall, Soldiers are already contacted and assembled at various National Guard facilities throughout the state. At this point, the weather is usually still nice, and the only visible warnings of a possible natural disaster are on radar.

    It’s often after a hurricane has blown through an area that the real work usually begins, and Soldiers who serve in emergency operations centers (EOC) coordinate that work. When emergency food and water rations need delivery and people need help, EOCs across Florida act as the nerve centers of the FLARNG’s disaster relief response.

    “We get taskings from the joint operations center in Camp Blanding and assign those missions to various FLARNG units under our command,” said Army Master Sgt. Richard Conrad, major support command operations sergeant for the 50th RSG. “These taskings can involve moving resources, supporting civilian organizations, or search-and-rescue missions. We have to react to whatever people might need.”

    Units of various sizes assign missions to Soldiers within its own “triangulation” of operation throughout Florida. Conrad said the 50th RSG coordinates units from Pensacola and Jacksonville in the northern part of the state, to Homestead in South Florida where the 50th RSG is headquartered.

    “The 50th RSG’s triangle covers all of Florida,” Conrad said. “We’ve got communications units in all three of the furthest areas to maintain communications and computers, among other assets, and without those assets our operations to help are hindered.”

    Hurricane relief requires the resources and expertise of a multi-agency response to help Floridians in impacted areas. During these emergency operations, FLARNG Soldiers work with various civilian organizations, such as the Florida Department of Emergency Management, Florida’s Department of Military Affairs, as well as numerous local and county authorities, among others.

    Conrad said that during the FLARNG’s current state activation for Ian, he serves as the battle noncommissioned officer in charge, and he tracks taskings received from higher authority. Those taskings get assigned as missions to various units under the 50th RSG that are best equipped to accomplish those missions in the impacted areas. In wartime, the EOC would usually be referred to as a “tactical operations center,” or “TOC,” and would operate in much the same way, but its work would have a traditional focus on combat in a tactical environment, instead of disaster relief.

    Army 1st Lt. Barbara Moser’s normal FLARNG position is the 50th RSG’s anti-terrorism officer, but during her hurricane activation, she has been the night shift assistant battle captain since 24-hour operations began. She has previously served during five hurricane activations with the 715th Military Police Company, based in Melbourne, Florida.

    Moser said that while working with the 715th, she did search-and-rescue missions, managed and secured points of distribution where she dispersed various supplies, and worked with the Federal Emergency Management Agency by taking photos to assess damage. Ian represents her first activation working in the EOC, and it’s been a very different experience.

    “There’s a lot to learn working in the EOC for the first time,” Moser said. “Sometimes things can get a little crazy in a line company in the field but seeing the bigger picture of how things get prioritized and how orders get pushed out, the process makes more sense now.”

    In the EOC, Moser monitors for new updates to current operations, referred to as “fragmentary orders,” as well as any new missions that are assigned from higher commands, and prepares briefs for the coming day shift.

    “Organizing our efforts after a natural disaster is obviously very important work,” Moser said. “It feels good knowing that you’re helping at a higher level where you’re ensuring your Soldiers are good, their equipment is good, and that translates to how well they can help the people of Florida.”




    Date Taken: 10.03.2022
    Date Posted: 10.05.2022 08:45
    Story ID: 430644
    Location: HOMESTEAD, FL, US 

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