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NEWS | Aug. 10, 2016

Task Force 76 conducts a Staff Exercise

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

WESTOVER, Mass. – The Task Force 76 (TF-76) out of Westover Air Reserve Base, Massachusetts, held its staff exercise or STAFFEX, Aug. 3-7.

The exercise is task organized between the senior leaders and various staff sections for briefings, battle rhythm, drills, rehearsals, staff estimate, and working group sessions designed to train the unit for its wartime missions. “How do we run estimate for the unit, into our SOPs? 

How we do rehearsal, we need to understand and incorporate that into our SOP,” said Col Doug Mills, TF-76 chief of staff.  One of the tasks to staff is to create sectional structure in accordance with 150 passengers battle roster and to identify key outputs and staffing shortfalls. 

“The end of STAFFEX, the staff should give and back brief the chief of staff, and say sir, we looked at what we got, we looked at our resources, this is the structure that we want to use; it meets the commander’s intent, these are the titles and positions,” said Maj. Thomas Gingras, TF-76 operations officer.

Mills referenced his battle update brief (BUB) during his deployment, how the brief was at seven every morning because the North BUB was at eight in the morning.  “You have to be flexible and adaptable and be able to do those kinds of things. That is why identifying these duties and responsibilities, and what you’re bringing to me, at least the ones that are standing, boards and working groups, allows that flexibility. It allows us to fill that bench players and the people that we pull in on short notice to fill those gaps.”

The STAFFEX group sessions included briefings from Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA), Joint Task Force – Civil Support (JTF-CS), and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).Bonnie Roy, Regional Planner at MEMA, provided an overview of the Web Emergency Operations Center (EOC). 

The Soldiers were provided a multi-user account that will be the account that the Soldiers will take with them.  So if they activate their EOC and they want to use Web EOC, this will be the permanent login and password, from now and going forward. 

“Web EOC is our primary communication tools and it operates 24/7 for our dispatch, if it’s actually for disasters, it moves over into the state EOC.  We also use it here in regional EOC,” said Roy.

MEMA is the state agency responsible for coordinating federal, state, local, voluntary and private resources during emergencies and disasters in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Information Management Officer Bill Solar, JTF-CS, said that the Web EOC is a web-based database use to share information over the internet.  “It’s an emergency management tool.  We use it as our main emergency operations tool.” 

During hands-on, Soldiers learned that the web-based also managed situational awareness activity log by being able to record, track and share information where everyone can see. 

They are able to input after action review (AAR), update briefing slides for the command update brief, update personnel status (Red Cross, leave) and protocol biographies for distinguish visitors, built-in checklist (ex: aircraft accident), flight tracker for TF-Aviation, and request for information (RFI) tracker. 

These are some of the boards examples created in the database.  The web-based also managed resource requests such as generators, chainsaw, tents, spill kits, and more during major incidents and disasters.

“Web EOC basically lets you know what’s going on in the state,” said Roy. “EOC is a new system.  We do this to increase awareness.  How do you link that into your staff estimate,” said Mills.

The TF-76 leadership plans to use the knowledge gained and the work accomplished during STAFFEX to prepare for future exercises and missions.

The TF-76’s mission is to deploy to provide mission command to Department of Defense response forces, conducting operations in a Command and Control Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear Response Element – A (U.S. Army) role, and anticipates requirements in support of civil authorities, to save lives, alleviate suffering, and maintain public confidence.