U.S. military prepares for hurricane season in midst of COVID-19

By Stacey Knott U.S. Northern Command

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Military and interagency personnel held a virtual table top exercise here May 13, 2020, to discuss how U.S. Northern Command would perform its Defense Support to Civil Authorities mission in a COVID-19 environment.

The topic of the exercise was a simulated DOD response to a hurricane or wildfire during the ongoing COVID-19 threat. National weather experts predict the 2020 hurricane season, which runs June 1 to November 30, will have four major hurricanes.

To practice social distancing, participants from U.S. Northern Command, their components, other Department of Defense entities, and interagency mission partners met via telephone and video teleconference.

Discussions included planning efforts in advance of and immediately following a DSCA event; how best to keep the military force healthy; search and rescue operation considerations; and other logistical areas of interest, which could be impacted in a coronavirus environment.

The United States military has unique equipment, expertise and personnel who are able to assist disaster-stricken areas upon official request through a lead federal agency. U.S. Northern Command executes the response on behalf of the Department of Defense when the disaster takes place in the contiguous United States or one of its closely-located territories.

In executing the DSCA mission, USNORTHCOM generally operates through established Joint Task Forces subordinate to the command. In most cases, support will be limited, localized and specific until such time when the response can be managed by local, state or territorial authorities.

USNORTHCOM's primary mission is homeland defense, but the command also serves as DoD's lead for the DSCA mission in the United States.