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preparing for the storM

Story by: Capt. Charlie Emmons | Public Affairs Office | Georgia Army National Guard

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ith hurricane season officially beginning, the Georgia Department of Defense continued to enhance its readiness by conducting two key events. The Ga. DoD partnered with a number of local, state, and federal agencies to conduct a hurricane rehearsal of concept (ROC) drill, June 7 and a hurricane event exercise in the Joint Operations Center, June 9. By hosting the two events, Ga. DoD was able to brief and train on their capabilities with interagency partners to communicate when Georgia DoD assets will be available in a phased response operation. “We want to get to a point where we are intimate with each other’s capabilities and capability gaps so we can anticipate when Georgia National Guard assets will be needed,” said Maj. William Parker, plans officer for Strategic Plans and Policies (J5) office. Some of the issues discussed during the events included the response packages that will be required from outside of the state to cover personnel shortages due to upcoming deployments. An estimated 3,000 Georgia Guardsmen will deploy to support combatant commands around the world in the coming year. The majority of which will come from the Macon-based 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team. To meet the manning shortfall, the emergency management assistance comp ac t (EMAC) p ackages f rom neighboring states could be called upon to fill those capability gaps. EMAC offers assistance during governor-declared states of emergency or disaster through a responsive, straightforward system that

8 | The Georgia Guardsman

allows states to send personnel, equipment and commodities to assist with response and recovery efforts in other states according to http://www.emacweb. org. “We can conceivably use a brigade in just one county,” said Parker, referring to the massive local response deficit experienced by deploying a combat arms organization that doubles as a domestic response element. Based on the Georgia National Guard’s experience supporting Florida’s hurricane response efforts last year, they learned that it’s also a good idea to reach out to states beyond their FEMA region, because they wouldn’t be affected by a hurricane. An additional hurricane response challenge would be coordinating the admin, logistics and check-in process for incoming units through joint reception, staging, onward movement and integration (JRSOI) sites throughout the state. This process will be coordinated and conducted by the Ga. ARNG’s 78th Troop Command. “Once that EMAC goes out and the state picks it up and says they’re coming, how we talk to those guys,” Parker asked as a

hypothetical. “Who do they talk to in the JOC and how does that battle handover work?” These are some of the issues that these events help participating agencies work through. In 2016, Ga. DoD responded to Hurricane Matthew by activating 2,000 Soldiers and Airmen and more than 200 State Defense Force volunteers for missions that ranged from traffic management, security, debris clearance and sheltering operations to relief supply management and transportation. Georgia DoD provided several thousand personnel to support the 2017 response to Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Jose and Maria. This included missions in Georgia, Florida, Texas and Puerto Rico. Throughout the years, Georgia partnered with other state National Guard organizations along with more than a hundred federal, state, and civilian agencies to conduct domestic response training throughout the region. One significant advantage through all of the disaster response missions and training exercises is the continuity of responders. “We are very fortunate in Georgia that across all the agencies that normally participate in exercises or hurricanes we’ve had the same folks and stability across these different agencies,” said Parker. “We’ve got the same crew together for this season, so I can’t tell you how encouraging that is.”

Photo by: Capt. Charlie Emmons | Public Affairs Office | Georgia Army National Guard

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