Story by Staff Sgt. Shawn Morris
99th Regional Support Command
JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. – The 99th Regional Support Command supported three quartermaster teams that mobilized here to become the first-ever Army Reserve units to be deployed in response to a domestic natural disaster under the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act.
The 99th RSC provided the 401st, 410th and 431st Quartermaster Teams with mission-essential items such as waste-water pumps, military vehicles, tents, heaters, generators, cold- and wet-weather gear, and rations.
“My entire staff is working out of their trades and rolling up their sleeves in this effort,” said Gene Scholler, deputy director of logistics for the 99th RSC. “We’ve been working around-the-clock with these units to get them ready.”
At the direction of U.S. Northern Command, the 401st, 410th, and 431st Quartermaster Teams activated and reported here for allocation to the affected areas. Each team consists of about 25 soldiers and is designed to operate six 600-gallon-per-minute water pumps.
These three quartermaster teams will be part of Task Force Pump, a conglomeration of active-duty, Reserve and National Guard units from several branches of service that will provide relief to victims of Hurricane Sandy in New York.
The 99th RSC personnel used their equipment storehouses and ingenuity to provide these three teams with fuel pumps converted to water pumps and hose strainers crafted from metal shopping carts, among other assets.
“Once their mission was identified, we were tagged to open up the fuel supply points and then strip those units to make them into storm-water pumps instead of fuel,” Scholler explained. “We also had to design and fabricate some intake grates for the systems so they would operate properly.
“We came up with 16 viable [pumps] to be deployed with the quartermaster units, complete with intake and discharge hoses,” he continued.
“We’ve had to add mobility assets, and the 99th has been providing that in order to allow us to move the pumps around the affected area,” added Lt. Col. Harold Parkinson, officer in charge of the 316th Expeditionary Support Command mobilization team, which was here to assist with the 401st Quartermaster Team’s processing.
The 99th RSC is helping the quartermaster teams to not only accomplish their mission, but to make their mark on history as well. Under the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, the Army Reserve is now allowed to provide disaster relief and emergency management in support of civil authorities, and this response to Hurricane Sandy marks the first time the new authorities of the act have been used.
“We have different assets in the Army Reserve than they have in the National Guard, so in a situation like this where you need pumping capability, that’s not an asset that the Guard has a great deal of,” explained Parkinson, referring to the National Guard’s traditional role as the military responder in civil emergencies. “The new law makes it possible to get the assets of the Reserve into the emergency management system.”
The 2012 National Defense Authorization Act presents a significant opportunity for the Army Reserve to meet the needs of local communities during a disaster, and units like the 99th RSC and 401st, 410th and 431st Quartermaster Teams continue to allow the Army Reserve to use its capabilities to help those affected by Hurricane Sandy to recover and rebuild their communities and lives.