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NEWS | May 31, 2016

76th EPLO/CMPO, 9th MSC and USARC teams train for disaster in Honolulu

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

FORT SHAFTER, Hawaii – The 76th Operational Response Command’s (ORC) Emergency Preparedness Liaison Officer (EPLO) Group, the 9th Mission Support Command (MSC), the Homeland Operations Division United States Army Reserve Command (USARC), the mobilization team USARC, the County and State Emergency Manager, the National Guard, and the American Samoa leadership (video teleconference) participated in a Defense Support of Civil Authorities (DSCA) briefing 101 and Table Top Exercise (TTX) led by Region 9 Civil Military Project Officer (CMPO), Bryce Jones, May 21-22, Honolulu, Hawaii.

The objective of the TTX was to practice organizational Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures (TTPs) by reacting to two consecutive Category 4 hurricanes: the first hitting American Samoa and the second hitting Oahu, Hawaii.  The training included “DSCA 101 Training,” understanding of the National Response Framework, and Immediate Response Authority (IRA) interactive vignettes.  Finally, the 9th MSC presented their exercise base order, executed the TTX from Phase 0 through Phase 5, and conducted an after action review to build upon its staffing and DSCA competencies.

“There are two methods for us (Army Reserve) to get involved: one is Immediate Response Authority, and the other one is a deliberate response,” said Jones.  “Save lives, prevent human suffering, and mitigate great property damage are the three reasons why we can do Immediate Response Authority; you can’t do it for anything else,” he added.  “So when the local authority comes to you and says he or she needs help, there’s an emergency; if the scenario dictates you’re not saving lives, you’ve got to say no we can’t support.”
Jones coordinated the exercise as a planning and engagement team with Region 10 CMPO, Stacey Christine, and emergency management specialist, Homeland Operations Division, USARC, Robert Stabb.

“The National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 allows Title 10 forces, which means everyone present in this 9th MSC exercise – to provide disaster relief and emergency management via Defense Support of Civil Authorities.  While Title 10 forces will not be the lead federal agency, we will support the lead agency upon receipt of a formal mission assignment.  This allows us to prevent loss of life, human suffering, and mitigate loss of property within local communities during catastrophic events,” said Col. Ernest Litynski, EPLO Group Commander, 76th ORC.  “We support the lead agency during National Special Security Events (NSSEs), hurricanes, tornados, and forest fires on the domestic mainland regularly.  Similarly, the 9th MSC’s support and capabilities for similar DSCA events in the states and territories of the Asia-Pacific realm are of utmost important as well.”   

Immediate Response Authority (IRA) support must be requested by civil authority.  Civil authority refers to an elected or appointed official with decision-making authority; examples include a mayor or fire chief.  These IRA requests must be evaluated to include: receipt of a formal request from local authorities when imminently serious conditions exist; unit resource and personnel availability; and time constraints for approval from higher authority.  “In necessary conditions when time does not permit obtaining approval from the higher authority within the United States, military commanders and Department of Defense civilian officials may take immediate action to save lives, prevent human suffering, and mitigate great property damage,” said Jones.

According to Stabb, if there was catastrophic event and the unit received an IRA request, the units would go through these six areas (CARRLL) if they are saving lives, preventing human suffering, and mitigating property damage.  The six areas are: Cost – who pays (civilian requestor needs to know that assistance is potentially reimbursable)? Appropriateness - is it appropriate for the Army Reserve to conduct (does it prevent human suffering, or mitigate great property damage)? Readiness - does it impact on unit ability to perform primary mission? Risk – safety of Army Reserve forces and is the environment permissive? Legality – compliance with the law (e.g.: Posse Comitatus Act restrictions)? And Lethality – potential for use of lethal force by or against Army Reserve forces?
“The competencies demonstrated by the 9th Mission Support Command’s leaders and staff during this DSCA exercise were truly inspiring.  The ability of subordinate units to produce a common operational picture (COP) and respond to a catastrophic DSCA event throughout the Asian-Pacific realm clearly demonstrate a deep commitment to the 9th MSC mission statement.  It’s great to see such leadership and preparedness that will ultimately save lives and prevent human suffering,” said Litynski.