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NEWS | April 14, 2016

The 76th Operational Response Command's Emergency Preparedness Liaison Officer Preparedness/Training Workshop

By Maj. Michael Garcia 76th U.S. Army Reserve Operational Response Command

SAN DIEGO – The 76th Operational Response Command’s Emergency Preparedness Liaison Officer (EPLO) Group participated at a preparedness / training workshop hosted by the United States Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) at Naval Base Coronado / Naval Air Station North Island, California, April 4-8, 2016.  

The workshop was designed to integrate all EPLO regions, USNORTHCOM, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Office of the Secretary of Defense, and other agencies, in order to collaborate in solving problems.  Exercises and discussions focused on inter-agency and inter-service  procedures and partnerships that would allow the Department of Defense to deploy rapidly during a Defense Support of Civil Authority (DSCA) event in support of the lead federal agency.
“Be very good at what you do.  Challenge yourself.  It’s not just something you do part-time because when it hits the fan, you’re it!  And we are going to rely on you to do very well because we cannot fail,” said Maj. Gen. Jack Briggs II, director of operations USNORTHCOM.  

He encouraged everyone to take their time this week and breakdown some of those barriers and questions they may have.  “We will try to be as best as we can possibly be at this, because the season is upon us and we cannot fail,” he said.

Director of Field Operations FEMA, Deanne Criswell, spoke about her career and experience as the emergency services as firefighter, and concluded her career there as the emergency manager for the city.  At the same time, she was also a member of the Colorado Air National Guard for 21 years.  It is during this time she can actually recognize the importance of collaboration, seeing the resource requirements from both sides.  

“From a local emergency manager’s perspective, or even as firefighter, the ability with established partnerships was a critical key to our overall preparation.  

These relationships provide multiple opportunities to train together, exercise together, and culminated in a better understanding of how we can help each other,” said Criswell.

“Our Command’s EPLOs often respond to a domestic crisis within 6 hours of notification.  These responses support a mission assignment from a key stakeholder within one of the intergovernmental agencies in the United States, such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency,” said Col. Ernest Litynski, EPLO Group Commander, 76th Operational Readiness Command (ORC).  

“This workshop provides a unique opportunity for  all joint stakeholders to further appreciate  inter-service capabilities, operating procedures, and  partner agency interoperability mechanisms that help increase our response readiness and execution during a real-world, no-notice DSCA event.”

The 76th ORC's EPLO Group  is responsible for supporting civil authorities during DSCA events such as natural or manmade  disasters, as well as supporting the lead federal agency during National Special Security Events (NSSE).  

The Command is organized to deploy EPLOs on short notice and is geographically located in 53 states and territories throughout the country in order to provide this immediate response when requested by the lead federal agency during domestic emergencies.

Briggs commented about how the 76th ORC’s EPLO fit in to this big picture.  He said that during disasters, it’s a total force response.  

The organizational structure to respond to these needs to leverage all of those particular specialties that exist not just in the active component, but also in the reserve component particularly.  

Hence, some of these capabilities that resides only in the reserve component, they have to have a “prepared to deploy order” and train them up to do that.  

“The other thing is really important when we think about the reserve component is their connectivity to the local communities.  So, when we are looking to be involve in local communities disaster, when they see their neighbors participating and helping in that response, that really opens the door for our support.  It makes it easier for us to coordinate because they see us as partners, because they got local folks supporting along with the active component when we have those responses,” said Briggs.

In the end, Briggs thanked everyone for all their hard work; that they really are doing something for the public, the people.  

“In this room right now, are actually the people that do it.  They are the grease, the thinkers that solve the problem as its happening.  There’s nobody else behind you that does this.  You’re it.  You’re critical!”