Soldiers train for disaster response scenarios

By Spc. Christopher Hernandez | 345th Public Affairs Detachment | April 27, 2017

April 26, 2017 — Army Reserve Soldiers - comprising of civil affairs, engineers, transportation, and other branches - took part in the 76th Operational Response Command’s Defense Support of Civil Authorities held here April 22-24. Coordinated by the 76th ORC and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, DSCA workshops engage Soldiers with seminars, hands-on training exercises, and guidance in order to augment individual and unit disaster response capabilities.

“Today’s event is a good opportunity for all of the commanders within the FEMA Region VI area to come and learn about Defense Support of Civil Authorities,” said Col. Hiram Tabler, the Director of Military Support for the Oklahoma Army National Guard. “It’s very important for the commanders and their staff to understand the whole DSCA process, because it’s different working with civilian authorities versus working in a wartime environment.”

Recurring numerous times each year in the United States, these DSCA training events instructs Soldiers on effective deployment of personnel and assets in emergency response situations and what can be done within legal parameters. Furthermore, the workshops emphasize coordination with the Army National Guard and civilian agencies such as FEMA, law enforcement, and firefighters.

“I appreciate coming to these [events] because it helps to reinforce disaster and emergency preparedness, different types of training, and rules and regulations that we can take back into the states to work with our stakeholders,” said Col. Emily Perry, the Emergency Preparedness Liaison Officer for the Defense Coordinating Element of FEMA Region VI-New Mexico.

Although Perry and a few other Soldiers harbor an extensive background in DSCA operations, many have had little or no knowledge of the process beforehand. For Capt. Jennifer MacGregor, a company commander from the 601st Transportation Detachment out of Santa Fe, N.M., this workshop marks her first time in its entirety.

“I think this is super-valuable training because as a Reservist, I didn’t know that my company could be involved on U.S. soil for natural disasters,” MacGregor said. “As a company commander, my job is to make sure that my company knows what to do in situations like this.”

According to Perry, the success of DSCA operations hinges mainly on a proactive approach, not a reactive one.

“I say that this is a must for any level of leadership because it’s not a matter of ‘if,’ but a matter of ‘when’ some type of natural disaster happens,” Perry said. “We need to rehearse, we need to be prepared, and we need to have our mobilization [assets] ready just like we would if we were going to war.

We need to rehearse those capabilities so if and when we’re called, we’re ready to go into that support role and to help defend our homeland,” Perry added.

The overall creation and organization of the DSCA workshops is mainly attributed to Terry New, FEMA Region VI’s Civil Military Project Officer. Although dates have yet to be determined, these events will continue to occur throughout the United States.