NEWS

JTF-HD Hosts Lightning Rescue 2011 Mid-Planning Conference

By Darrell D. Ames, JTF-HD Public Affairs


The crowd listens intently at the Joint Task Force Homeland Defense (JTF-HD) Lightning Rescue 2011 Mid-Planning Conference held recently at Ford Island. Lightning Rescue 2011 is an annual exercise designed to prepare federal, state, and civil authorities with the ability and expertise to be able to respond to a threat of infectious disease and/or a biographical threat. (Official JTF-HD photo by Darrell Ames)
The crowd listens intently at the Joint Task Force Homeland Defense (JTF-HD) Lightning Rescue 2011 Mid-Planning Conference held recently at Ford Island. Lightning Rescue 2011 is an annual exercise designed to prepare federal, state, and civil authorities with the ability and expertise to be able to respond to a threat of infectious disease and/or a biographical threat. (Official JTF-HD photo by Darrell Ames)

FORT SHAFTER, Hawaii – FORT SHAFTER, Hawaii – Responding to the threat of infectious disease and/or a biographical threat is the focus of Lightning Rescue 2011, Joint Task Force - Homeland Defense's (JTF-HD) annual joint-interagency disaster preparedness and response exercise. The exercise, slated for September 13-22, will include a joint-interagency Tabletop exercise and a Command Post exercise.

"We want to concentrate our efforts on the joint-interagency response to a possible threat," said Robyn Romero, JTF-HD contract support team exercise planner. "The exercise planning conference provides a forum for Department of Defense (DoD), Federal, State, City and County, and Private Sector Organizations participants to discuss potential scenarios for the exercise," added Romero.

The exercise will provide all parties the opportunity 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.

"We conduct these exercises because the threat is real," said Army Lt. Col. Robin Lau, JTF-HD Chief of Plans and Exercises. "Exercising cooperation and coordination between DoD and our interagency partners to conduct Defense Support of Civil Authorities operations is equally important," said Lau.

Table Top Exercises are generally designed to test concepts, identify and discuss issues, explore trends, examine processes, educate, train, and develop relationships. Lau, speaking at the recent Lightning Rescue 2011 Mid Planning Conference, said this year's event "will also be a good opportunity to confirm roles and responsibilities within the response community and to define DoD support roles and functions."

The exercise is a joint effort of more than 20 organizations, which includes DoD Installations and organizations, and interagency partners from civilian governments at all levels (local, state, and federal), as well as private companies and non-government organizations. It will showcase the capabilities of all these organizations, while providing the opportunity to train in medical response, disaster planning, and interagency communications.

"Preparing now can help mitigate the severity of a disaster and can save lives," said Mel Garcia, JTF-HD Deputy 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 Garcia.

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 Pacific 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 Joint Operations Area (JOA), and when required, coordinates and provides DOD resources to help save lives and prevent great property damage.