Kentucky Guard plans for domestic disasters

Story and photos by Sgt. David Bolton, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs Office

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Joint Force Headquarters (JFHQ) members from the Kentucky National Guard plan strategic measures on how to assist citizens of Kentucky in the event of a state emergency in Frankfort, Ky. August 3, 2012. (photo by Sgt. David Bolton, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs Office).

FRANKFORT, Ky.–United States Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) and National Guard Bureau (NGB) servicemembers convened at the Capital Plaza Hotel to discuss ways on how to best aid the civilians of Kentucky and the first responders when faced with domestic disasters in Kentucky Aug. 3, 2012.“The training will help us do a better job of planning during a crisis and to be more thorough in responding to the needs of the citizens of the Commonwealth in the event of a national disaster,” said Col. William A. Denny, Kentucky National Guard Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations.

The domestic response graduated level staff was comprised of individuals from Civil Support Teams (CST) all the way through senior general officer leadership. Joint Forces Headquarters (JFHQ) members from the Kentucky National Guard sought to lie out plans on how to assist citizens of Kentucky in the event of a state emergency.

Among the topics considered were the logistics of responding to state disasters in terms of mustering troops for response, coordinating with government officials, correctly paying Soldiers, responsibly allocating resources, dealing with legal matters, etc.

“After these three days we’re staffed to better serve the governor and citizens of Kentucky,” said Maj. Dean Roberts, a National Guardsman from Colorado Springs, Colo. working with USNORTHCOM.  “There is nothing that the Kentucky Guard does without the request of civilian authorities.”

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Kentucky Army National Guard Col. William A. Denny, Kentucky National Guard Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, explains planning and logistical operations for the task forces assigned to different sectors of Kentucky in the event of a natural disaster scenario in the state August 3, 2012 in Frankfort, Ky. (photo by Sgt. David Bolton, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs Office)

Scenarios included in the planning and development of these response measures drew from past natural disasters in Kentucky including ice storms, earthquakes, wild fires, and tornados.  Joint operations with FEMA were also part of the presentations and contingency planning operation process.Unique to the National Guard has been the additional responsibility of homeland missions in conjunction with federal operations overseas.  With the continued drawdown of troops from overseas, the Kentucky National Guard is beginning to apply those learned skill sets from theater operations here at home.

“50 percent of our mission is to support domestic operations and it’s very critical that we translate those military skills that we learn as part of our training into domestic operations and support for the Commonwealth of Kentucky,” said Brig. Gen. Mike Richie, Commander of the Land Component Command for the Kentucky National Guard.  “That’s what this training is about, it’s about how you take those military skills and apply those in a disaster situation.”

When dealing with natural disasters, the leadership of the Kentucky National Guard knows that there must be a precise and systematic series of precautionary and reactionary responses to any given situation.  Preparation is the catalyst for efficiency.

“There’s an art and a science to domestic response. It’s the most important of all guard missions,” said Roberts.

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