June 13, 2008 —
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – U.S. Northern Command, at the request of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, is deploying a Defense Coordinating Officer and a Defense Coordinating Element to FEMA Regions V and VII to assess the impact of flood conditions in the Midwest and to identify Department of Defense assets that could be used to assist and support FEMA in mitigating the effects of that flooding.
DCOs and DCEs work closely with federal, state and local officials in assessing what unique equipment and/or personnel services from DoD may be necessary to support the state and federal agencies in response and recovery efforts. The DCO and DCE from Region V have deployed to Camp Atterbury, near Edinburgh, Ind. The Region VII DCO and DCE are deploying to the Joint Field Office in Urbandale, Iowa.
“The thoughts and prayers of the USNORTHCOM staff are with all the citizens of the communities affected by the recent floods,” said Army Maj. Gen. Guy Swan III, director of USNORTHCOM Operations. “We wish to express our deepest condolences to those who have lost loved ones. A tragedy like this is felt by all Americans – but we are fully prepared to quickly and effectively respond to the situation. We will pull together to help our own.”
The DCOs are responsible for coordinating the use of all active duty military personnel and equipment requested by the lead agency responding to a disaster such as the current flooding. The DCEs include personnel who support the DCOs, ensuring administrative tasking required to coordinate support efforts are completed so that personnel in the field can be utilized to their full effectiveness in response to a disaster.
DoD is anticipating providing additional support based on current and future weather forecasts and is standing by to support FEMA as the Primary Agency and to assist in local and state response efforts as requested and approved by the President or Secretary of Defense.
DoD has a number of unique capabilities which can be made available for support of civil authorities, including a robust aviation capability for Search and Rescue as well as space-based, airborne and ground assets for Incident Awareness Assessment.
SAR assets can rescue citizens in distress, saving the lives of those who face danger as a result of the extensive flooding. IAA assets can provide FEMA officials and other decision makers with visual imagery (e.g., damage to infrastructure) and give operators situational awareness of the flood conditions. In November 2007, USNORTHCOM directed the use of military IAA assets during the Southern California wildfires, providing invaluable, near-real time imagery to first responders on the ground.
U.S. Northern Command was established on Oct. 1, 2002, to anticipate and conduct homeland defense and civil support operations within the asigned area of responsibility to defend, protect and secure the United States and its interests.