American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, March 30, 2009 – U.S. Northern Command continues to coordinate additional and ongoing Department of Defense support to Federal Emergency Management Agency, state and local authorities in North Dakota and Minnesota supporting disaster operations in response to flooding in North Dakota.
Northcom officials mobilized defense coordinating officers and defense coordinating elements to the FEMA Regional Response Coordination Center in Bismarck, N.D., serving FEMA regions 5 and 8. The DCO acts as the liaison between FEMA and Northcom, relaying capabilities available to FEMA and coordinating movement of active-duty personnel and equipment to assist should the need arise. The DCE acts as administrative support to the DCO.
Northcom officials also deployed five CH-47 Chinook helicopters and two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters to Grand Forks Air Force Base, N.D., for a variety of missions in support of FEMA. Potential missions include search and rescue, supply transportation, and movement of evacuees or other response personnel.
The command also deployed three search-and-rescue planners from its headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colo., and two more from Air Forces Northern at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., to assist in SAR planning at the Joint Personnel Recovery Center at Tyndall. The three planners from Northcom’s Standing Joint Force Headquarters North division will assist in the efforts being conducted at the JRPC, which focuses specifically on large-scale search-and-rescue operations in the event of a hurricane or natural disaster.
When a disaster occurs, the JPRC activates and coordinates the SAR actions of all rescue aircraft in the disaster area to improve the efficiency of rescue operations and reduce the potential for accidents.
In coordination with Air Forces Northern, Northcom also is sending an aviation planner to the North Dakota Emergency Operations Center to prepare for potential SAR missions in the affected areas.
FEMA requested, and Northcom is supporting, use of Grand Forks Air Force Base as a national logistics staging area. The NLSA will consist of five to 10 acres of space, including 1,000 square feet of office space, necessary to support forward distribution of supplies and equipment to affected areas in North Dakota. The airfield at the base also is being used to forward stage active-duty helicopters.
In addition, Northcom officials mobilized a defense coordinating officer and defense coordinating element to FEMA Region 8’s Regional Response Coordination Center in Bismarck, N.DU.S. Northern Command, established in the wake of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, is responsible for homeland defense and defense support of civil authorities.
(From a U.S. Northern Command news release.)