Aug. 16, 2007 —
FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas – The Department of Defense has deployed a Defense Coordinating Officer and Defense Coordinating Element to the Caribbean in preparation for the landfall of Hurricane Dean, which was upgraded from a tropical storm yesterday.
The DCO and DCE deployed to support a FEMA Emergency Response Team - Advance in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
“We (deployed) at the request of FEMA,” said Army Col. Robert Freehill, Region II DCO. “If DoD is asked to respond, we will coordinate request for military assets and provide direct support to federal and local agencies as they support the people of any possible area affected by this storm.”
The DCO and DCE are based in New York City, but assigned to U.S. Army North, located at Ft. Sam Houston in San Antonio. Army North provides Defense Support of Civil Authorities as the Army component of U.S. Northern Command, the unified command headquartered at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., that is responsible for homeland defense and civil support. Each DCO, and DCE, is co-located with a FEMA regional headquarters to assist in planning for federal disaster response missions.
Freehill is currently on the ground in St. Thomas with FEMA’s Virgin Islands ERT-A. He will provide command and control of any responding active-duty forces, should they be requested, and will facilitate requests for any additional DoD support through USNORTHCOM.
The six-person Region II DCE prepares for civil support missions by working daily with federal and state emergency planners and consequence managers in New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The DoD can bring additional capabilities as part of a larger federal response when requested by the state and approved by the Secretary of Defense.