News: Missouri State, Federal agencies take proactive role in disaster response
Story by Spc. Heather Denby
FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. -- The Missouri National Guard hosted a Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and High Yield Explosives Consequence Management Response Force and Missouri State Emergency Management Agency conference Wednesday and Thursday at the Missouri National Guard Headquarters.
Conference attendees included key leaders from the 4th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, Marines from the Marine Corps' Chemical/Biological Incident Response Force, representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and SEMA, Soldiers from the 7th Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team and Joint Task Force – Civil Support, Airmen from the 820th Red Horse Squadron and the Air Force Radiation Team, Joint Force Headquarters Missouri National Guard and the Missouri National Guard CBRNE Enhanced Response Force Package.
Commanders and key leaders discussed their capabilities for disaster response, operating procedures and possible scenarios that would require state and federal assistance.
"Our planning process is ongoing, living, breathing and growing to make it as efficient as possible which gives us the framework for initiating a military support operation," said Lt. Col. David Shaul, the J5 plans officer for the Missouri National Guard.
During the discussion, a Soldier expressed his concern for the time it would take to initiate state and federal reaction to a national disaster. His concerns were addressed directly by the FEMA Region VII Defense Coordinating Officer, Col. Barry Fowler.
"Response will happen as fast as it needs to happen," said Fowler. "When there are lives at risk, it's going to happen fast."
Maj. Laura Skinner, chief of the 4th MEB CBRNE functional support cell, contributed to Fowlers comments by reminding leaders of the economic stigma the government has encountered.
"The process of requesting local state and federal support ensures responsible spending when responding to a crisis," said Skinner.
If a disaster occurs and local responders need further assistance, then the state governor holds the authority to augment those responders with the state National Guard. If the state National Guard requires additional support the governor may request that the President activate Title 10, federal forces, to deploy in support of civil authorities.
Coordination of state and federal support of civil authorities is one of the many factors of disaster response that were discussed during the conference.
"Conference's such as this are key if we are to be prepared to accomplish this vital mission," said Command Sgt. Maj. Buford Noland, of the 193rd Brigade Support Battalion, part of the 4th MEB. "Organizations at the local, state and federal level must be able to work together if we are to be prepared to respond in a national crisis."
"This conference has gone a long way in making that cooperation possible," said Noland.