DoD, Navy and USNORTHCOM to support recovery effort in Minneapolis-St. Paul

By NORAD and USNORTHCOM Public Affairs | August 06, 2007

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – At the request of the Department of Transportation, and as directed by the Secretary of Defense, U.S. Northern Command has deployed a Defense Coordinating Officer, a Defense Coordinating Element and a Navy Mobile Dive and Salvage Unit to the Minneapolis-St. Paul area in response to last week's I-35 bridge collapse.

The deployment of Department of Defense forces was at the specific request of The Honorable Mary Peters, the Secretary of Transportation, who is the designated Principal Federal Official for the incident.  The Navy divers will be in support of Hennepin County responders, the Minnesota Department of Transportation and the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.

Col. Michael Chesney will be DoD's on-scene representative as the DCO to provide command and control of responding active-duty (Title X) forces and will facilitate requests for any additional DoD support.

As the Region V DCO based in Chicago, Chesney and his six-person Defense Coordinating Element prepare for civil support missions by working daily with federal and state emergency planners and consequence managers in the six-state region of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin.

The DCO and DCE are assigned to United States Army North, Fort Sam Houston, Texas. 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.

Currently, DoD is providing 18 divers and a five-person command and control element from the U.S. Navy's Mobile Dive and Salvage Unit #2, based in Little Creek, Va., to assist with the response.

Mobile Dive and Salvage Unit #2 is an asset of Fleet Forces Command, Norfolk, Va., the Navy component of U.S. Northern Command.  MDSU 2 is part of Navy Expeditionary Combat Command, a global force provider of adaptive force packages of expeditionary capabilities to joint warfighting commanders. NECC serves as a single functional command to centrally manage the current and future readiness, resources, manning, training, and equipping of the Navy Expeditionary Force. Recently, the heavy salvage capabilities of MDSU 2 were demonstrated during the salvage of the Titan IV Spacecraft off the coast of Cape Canaveral. The mobile diving capability has allowed for completion of demanding and emergent tasking such as the salvage of a SH-60 helicopter in 270 feet of water in the Red Sea.

When requested by the Primary Agency and approved by the Secretary of Defense, DoD assets may be utilized in support of civil authorities managing disaster recovery efforts. DoD brings additional capabilities in support of the Primary Agency as part of a larger federal response.

Established in 2002, U.S. Northern Command anticipates and conducts homeland defense and civil support operations within its assigned area of responsibility to defend, protect and secure the United States and its interests.

For more information on DoD support of recovery efforts in Minnesota, please contact Mr. Randy Mitchell, Army North Public Affairs, 210-846-9230; Senior Chief David Nagle at 757-374-1857; or Mr. Michael Kucharek, U.S. Northern Command Public Affairs, 719-554-9618.