Preparing for the National Level Exercise 2011
story and photos by Capt. Stephen Martin, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs
GREENVILLE, Ky. – In early May Kentucky will take part in National Level Exercise 2011, a test of the state’s response to a catastrophic earthquake along the New Madrid Fault. While NLE 2011 is a training exercise involving hundreds of Soldiers, Airmen and emergency first responders, local communities could expect to see thousands of personnel from across the nation supporting the relief effort during a real life event.
Somebody has to receive those resources and push them forward.
That’s where the JRSOI team comes in. JRSOI stands for Joint Reception, Staging, Onward Movement and Integration and it provides the process of receiving personnel from outside the Commonwealth, equipping them and quickly moving them forward to provide support.
According to Lt. Col. Dawn Muller, JRSOI Air Guard director, the current disaster response plan was effective during the 2009 ice storm, but it lacked some coordination.
“We realized after several years of doing this, there absolutely has to be command and control of incoming support to be effective in responding to disasters such as the ice storm,” said Muller.
More than 25 Kentucky National Guard Soldiers, Airmen and members of Kentucky Emergency Management came together to train on JRSOI Operations at Wendell H. Ford Regional Training Center in Greenville, Ky., April 5-7.
The JRSOI team encompasses all aspects of a military operation, from coordinating humvees and housing to ensuring accountability and reporting to those who are managing the response.
“Communication is absolutely critical,” said Sgt. 1st class Janet Holliday, human resource secialist. “We must have visibility of the assets coming in and be able to report that all the way to the governor. It’s our responsibility.”
Several JRSOI sites could be set up across the state depending upon the emergency and would in-process and coordinate both military and civilian personnel coming from outside the state to assist. Each site would be operated by both military and emergency management personnel ensuring that all relief efforts were coordinated to maximize the response.
Lt. Col. Hal Lamberton, Director of Military Support, emphasized the requirement for coordination.
“Until we get these outside assets into the affected area, we need to have 100 percent accountability for those units and ensure they get the equipment they need, whether it be chainsaws or MRE’s (Meals Ready to Eat) and direct them to where they’re supposed to go,” he said.
Lamberton said the JRSOI is not focused on just earthquakes, but it can support any type of state emergency or natural disaster such as flood, tornadoes or winter storms.
The conference saw a lot of dialogue on who will have what responsibilities and how those responsibilities are broken up, especially when working alongside civilian agencies.
“Bottom line, what’s our goal?” asked Daniel Cameron, a senior analyst working for the National Guard Bureau. “Deliver mission capable organizations to the operational commander as rapidly as possible in order to provide the necessary support to the citizens of the Commonwealth.”