Joint Task Force Homeland Defense
Conducts Lightning Rescue 2010

By JTF-HD Public Affairs

Joint Task Force - Homeland Defense (JTF-HD) conducted their annual joint-interagency disaster relief preparedness and response exercise, Lightning Rescue 2010, on September 8-9. While Lightning Rescue 2009 was based on a pandemic influenza threat, this year’s exercise focused on the broader “all biological hazards” paradigm.

“Lightning Rescue ’10 provided a forum for Department of Defense (DoD), Federal, State, City and County, and Private Sector Organizations participants to discuss potential scenarios for the exercise,” said Robyn Romero, JTF-HD exercise planner.

The exercise also provided an opportunity for all parties to improve their own biological threat response planning and to synchronize response efforts under the National Incident Management System (NIMS) and National Response Framework (NRF) and to exercise coordinated efforts in responding to a wide range of disasters in Hawaii and across the Pacific.

The exercise was a joint effort of more than 20 organizations, DoD Installations, and interagency partners. It showcased the capabilities of all these organizations, while providing the opportunity to train in medical response, disaster planning, and interagency communications.

Additionally, foreign delegates from Japan participated as observers to collect lessons learned for their own disaster management planning efforts. These delegates were also afforded the opportunity to share with interagency partners some of their planning considerations and experiences during the course of the week.

The 2010 version of Lightning Rescue was primarily a Table Top Exercise (TTX) where the biological threat response scenario drove discussion that was facilitated by subject matter experts from the State of Hawaii Department of Health, Center for Disease Control, and DoD service components.

“The possibility of a biological disaster is a very real threat,” said Mr. Mel Garcia, JTF-HD Deputy J-3. “Exercising cooperation and coordination between DoD and our interagency partners to conduct Defense Support of Civil Authorities operations is essential for our nation,” said Garcia.

Table Top Exercises are designed to test concepts, develop issues, explore trends, examine processes, educate, train, and develop relationships.

“Preparing now can limit the severity of a disaster and can save lives,” said Army Col. David Norton, JTF-HD J-3. “The opportunities to exercise with our interagency partners is critical in understanding where and how the military fits in the process of disaster response,” said Norton.

JTF-HD, with its Defense Coordinating Element, is based at Fort Shafter, Hawaii and is designated as the Homeland Defense coordinating agency between the Department of Defense and the civilian authorities in Hawaii, Guam, American Samoa, Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands as well as three foreign governments in the JOA to include the Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau. Working closely with Department of Homeland Security, Department of State, and military organizations in the Pacific, JTF-HD maintains situational awareness, helps coordinate implementation of a comprehensive Critical Infrastructure Protection Program across the JOA, and when required, coordinates and provides DOD resources to help save lives and prevent great property damage.