An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.













NEWS | March 14, 2024

USAID trainers teach ‘Warrior Medics’ disaster response coordination in JHOC training

By Sgt. 1st Class Neil W. McCabe Army Reserve Medical Command

Three dozen “Warrior Medics” of the Army Reserve Medical Command took the Joint Humanitarian Operations Course, taught March 7 through March 8 by personnel from USAID’s Bureau of Humanitarian Assistance at the command’s headquarters here.

“This is very important to our operations,” said Master Sgt. Brian B. Brown, the command’s interim operations sergeant major, “It’s important to learn how the civilian sector works with us hand-in-hand, so understanding that dynamic, and especially for us being stationed here in our department, ensuring that we have an idea of what the government agencies are doing as far as disaster responses.”

Brown said having the JHOC training for the three dozen AR-MEDCOM personnel was part of the command’s transformation initiated by Maj. Gen. W. Lynn Scott, AR-MEDCOM’s commanding general.

The Army Reserve Medical Command is one of three Army Reserve two-star medical commands, which supports the Army’s and joint integrated health activities and supports the Army Medical Department institutionally, through individual and collective training, as well as with functional expertise.

Lynn has directed the command’s staff to transform to match Big Army’s own transformation away from counterinsurgency to large-scale combat operations, or LSCO.

The master sergeant said the Soldiers on the operations staff were thrilled for the opportunity to participate in the JHOC course through the U.S. Army Reserve Command.

“They were able to come down for our hurricane exercise last year,” he said. “They were pretty impressed with the initiatives that we began here as far as response operations,” he said.

“We were given this opportunity because USARC reached out,” he said. “When they asked: ‘Hey, who wants this course?’ Of course, we’re going to jump all over again.”

Eric James, a monitoring advisor with the military assistance section of the BHA and an Army Reserve veteran, said just as the Federal Emergency Management Agency is the lead agency in the federal government’s response to disasters, BHA partners with foreign governments to coordinate the American response to disasters.

In the fiscal year 2022, BHA, which that year had a budget of $12 billion, responded to complex emergencies in 30 countries, floods and landslides in 12 countries and one volcanic eruption.

“I think it's important for the Soldiers to know that this humanitarian assistance and disaster relief is a joint mission, it's part of what DOD does,” he said.

BHA relies on the military for equipment, personnel and mindset, he said. “The military has unique capabilities that can save lives.”

James, who was one of the BHA instructors with Sharon McHale and Ricky Ricardo Majette, said one recent example of USAID and the military working together was the response to the February 2023 earthquake that stuck central Turkey and northwest Syria that killed more than 50,000 individuals.

“In the case, DOD was part of our first response to airlift search and rescue teams to Turkey so that they could participate in the search and rescue,” he said. “Then, as the response--unfolding in weeks that followed--we did everything together including setting up a field hospital.”

Another participant, Lt. Col. Davis Ho, the deputy chief of command, control, communications, and computers staff, said he has participated in previous operations to support domestic and overseas disaster support.

Ho said he was happy to see the younger Soldiers taking the course, so they would have exposure to how the civilian agencies operate and rely on the military.

“I am very familiar with the process, so this was a good opportunity for others to learn about this mission,” he said.

McHale said in addition to the immediate response to an overseas disaster, there are also the steady-state missions, which are the enduring support to affected communities.

“There’s a touch point that doesn’t include the response, it includes the sustainability,” she said.

“There’s coordination that happens at the embassy level that ties in with the broader State Department and USAID missions and programs in building health capacity,” she said.

The JHOC course was first developed in 2004 at the request of military leaders, in order to familiarize military personnel with the USAID’s humanitarian mission and how the military can best support it. In the past two decades, more than 29,000 individuals have completed the two-day course.

The course teaches students different U.S. government disaster response structures, policies and roles and responsibilities. The students also learn to identify areas of mutual coordination and cooperation between civilian agencies and the military.

Sergeant 1st Class Yury Lopez, the future operations staff noncommissioned officer in-charge, said the course was very helpful, teaching her and the other Soldiers how the Defense Department works with the civilian agencies.

Lopez said one of the class exercises involved a response scenario to a combined hurricane and typhoon, where the AR-MEDCOM Soldiers were given cards with an individual step in the official USAID process.

The Soldiers, broken up into groups, had to put the steps in the correct order, said the Columbia native, who grew up outside of Miami, she said.
“We had to guess how the agency operates,” she said. “Then, they came back and said: ‘This is how we actually do it.’ We did pretty decent. It wasn’t like we were that far off.”

James said he appreciates that military personnel bring motivation and focus to the job when they partner with BHA.

“When we're responding to a disaster, it's great to work alongside the military because they have a very clear sense of mission and how to get things done in their high-pressure situation,” he said.

“They have the systems, the people, the mindset to do that, and so with that we have a real ability to make a difference in people's lives,” he said.

“That's what we do.”