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NEWS | Oct. 11, 2018

Army Reserve capabilities during disasters

By Melissa Russell Office of the Chief, Army Reserve

America’s Army Reserve is structured with dual-purpose capabilities and, as such, is a Federal Response Partner, maintaining a ready posture for Defense Support to Civil Authorities operations as a resource and  capabilities provider. The National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 expanded the Army Reserve capability to conduct DSCA response with increased mobilization authorities to rapidly activate units.

THE FIRST USE OF AMERICA'S ARMY RESERVE UNDER NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT 2012 was in November of that year, when Super Storm Sandy struck the east coast, flooding New York City streets and subway tunnels and leaving thousands of homes and millions of people without electric service.

Since then, the Army Reserve has helped respond to the Boston Marathon bombings, rescued a mountain climber from the summit of Mt. Rainier in Washington State, helped extinguish wildfires in Kansas and responded to other emergencies at the request of local authorities, including three consecutive hurricanes: Harvey, Irma and Maria.

Immediate response is conducted by Army Reserve units and Soldiers under the Immediate Response Authority (IRA) outlined in DoD Directive 3025.18, which authorizes local commanders to take action to save lives, prevent human suffering or mitigate great property damage in an urgent situation when there is insufficient time to get approval from higher headquarters.

As listed in DoD Directive 3025.18, a request for assistance from a civil authority (tribal authority, mayor, chief of police, fire chief, sheriff, chief of emergency management, etc.) is required to initiate the Immediate Response Authority. Following the request, Army Reserve units within the affected area may respond immediately to imminently serious disasters or attacks as required by civil authorities and within limits established by law.


• Distribution of medicine, food, consumable supplies and services

• Removal of debris and road clearance for immediate restoration of emergency and essential services

• Emergency medical care, search and rescue

• Transportation of supplies and persons

• Restoration of essential services

• Construction of temporary bridges and facilities for shelters, schools and essential public services

• Demolition of unsafe structures and posting hazard warnings

• Dissemination of public information on health and safety measures

• Technical and advisory assistance to state/local officials


NEARLY 200,000 SOLDIERS OF THE ARMY RESERVE ARE TRAINED, EQUIPPED AND ORGANIZED TO PERFORM A FULL RANGE OF OPERATIONS — including disaster response with facilities located in over 1,200 communities across the nation.

Key Army Reserve capabilities available for disaster response include:

• Aviation: medical evacuation, medium and heavy lift helicopters, search and rescue

• Engineering: search and rescue, debris removal, horizontal and vertical construction, portable bridges

• Medical: ground ambulance, combat support hospitals, specialized medical teams, veterinary services

• Communications: communications capabilities including satellite

• Logistics: water, petroleum, generators, general logistics

• Transportation: light, medium and heavy trucks, watercraft

• CBRN: Army Reserve chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear incident response capabilities are trained and ready