1st AF sharpens DSCA skills during Homeland Exercise
By Mary McHale , 1st Air Force Public Affairs
/ Published June 28, 2019
TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- More than 60 military and civilian members from approximately 25 units across the 1st AF (AFNORTH) enterprise, along with several federal interagency partners, honed their Defense Support to Civil Authorities knowledge and skills during a two-day disaster-response “Homeland Exercise” here June 25-26.
“Planning and preparedness are keys to successful mission accomplishment,” said Jerry Haney, emergency management specialist for FEMA’s Region IV. “The Interagency conversations held during HOMEX 19 will prove critical to that end.”
Accomplished through a combination of academics and a table-top dialogue-based exercise, the HOMEX featured a series interagency briefers and question-answer sessions. The TTX the second day featured a category-five hurricane scenario with participants describing and then discussing their actions during particular points of the DSCA event during the pre and post landfall timeline.
The term DSCA refers to when both DoD and civilian agencies work together to mobilize and distribute disaster-response resources to a state, or in some cases, states, following a catastrophic event that’s caused its own response resources to be overwhelmed. These events may be natural, such as wildfires, floods and hurricanes, or manmade, such as a chemical, biological or radioactive nuclear event.
Brig. Gen. Kenneth Ekman, 1st AF (AFNORTH) Vice Commander, made opening comments and encouraged the audience to actively participate in subsequent discussions on topics that ranged from force provisioning in a DSCA environment to the doctrinal basis of the dual status commander concept.
“There’s nothing more satisfying than helping friends and neighbors following a catastrophic event, whether next door or the next state,” he said. “Each state has different capabilities and each disaster is unique. It’s up to us to help each other, through our interagency communications, and relationships, and understanding of responder capabilities. Examining past lessons learned during DSCA events, both real-world and exercise, is essential to success.”
Lt. Col. Camillle Chigi, event facilitator and Chief, Operations Training, in the Air, Space and Information Operations directorate, explained the reason for the exercise.
“The HOMEX is a DSCA training event developed following Hurricane Katrina in 2005 to provide a venue for training, and information exchange,” she said. “The intended audience has been air expeditionary group commanders, Joint Air Coordination Control team members, and Air Force Forces and air operations center personnel. As awareness and demand signal for DSCA training increases, AFNORTH is adapting to expand the training audience to additional federal agencies and National Guard state leadership,” Chigi said. “This year, we were fortunate to have participation from a much wider array of participants.”
She added this year there were participants from: the U.S Navy; U.S Army, Customs and Border Protection; FEMA; Air Combat Command;, Air National Guard, U.S Northern Command; Texas ANG, and Georgia ANG.
“I met other interagency partners like FEMA and interacted with the U.S. Northern Command medical team leads so this was overall a very positive experience,” said Lt. Col. Thomas Doker, AFNORTH Chief, Public Health Operations, who is a new to the organization.
The FEMA Region IV representative summed up the training sentiments of many participants.
“I am looking forward to participating in future HOMEX events,” Haney said.