By Timothy L. Hale
U.S. Army Reserve Command
As Hurricane Dorian crawls up the Southeastern United States, U.S. Army Reserve Emergency Preparedness Liaison Officers, or EPLOs, are working with federal and military officials to prepare for any recovery operations, if they are needed.
EPLOs are fielded from the 76th Operational Response Command, based at Salt Lake City, Utah to the 10 FEMA regions across the United States in response to natural disasters through U.S. Army North (Fifth Army), at Fort Sam Houston, Texas.
U.S. Army Reserve Col. Kevin Embry, the EPLO working with FEMA and Fort Bragg emergency management officials for Hurricane Dorian, is no stranger to these missions. He was at Fort Bragg last year during Hurricane Florence and also serves as an EPLO in Kentucky.
“We increase the communication channels between federal, state, and local agencies,” Embry said.
Under the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 and Title 10, USC Section 12304a, America’s Army Reserve is authorized to provide disaster assistance to a major natural disaster or emergency in the United States or its territories at the request of the governor of a state.
“I’m the Title 10 LNO (military liaison officer) for the state. So normally FEMA operates on its own and you can see they do an outstanding job of staging trailers with commodities like water, food, and cots. I make sure that Fort Bragg is set up as an ISB (Incident Staging Base) or a BSI (Base Staging Installation) to ensure that the communication between forces is smooth down in this area.”
Embry said that ISBs are for staging commodities while a BSI is for staging Title 10 forces coming into an area for disaster recovery operations.
Embry added that based on recent hurricane experiences, FEMA and Fort Bragg have plenty of experience in dealing with natural disasters.
“The cooperation and communication between the federal, state, and local levels are really good,” Embry said. “There are 10 FEMA regions and, in my opinion, Region IV (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee) is the most exercised region of all due to the hurricanes that come in. They have well-developed plans, and we’re ready and prepared to take care of the emergency.”