News>Eagle Flag exercise expands, achieves new milestones
Tech. Sgt. Victor Figueroa, a 421st Combat Training Squadron medic, applies makeup to simulate an arm wound on a civilan role player before the start of a scenario for Eagle Flag Aug. 5 at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst. The exercise tested emergency officials’ ability to respond to a hurricane in New Jersey. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Zachary Wilson/Released.)
Dr. Michael Kane, a local civilian physician participating in Eagle Flag, treats a shrapnel arm wound on a civilian role player Aug. 5 at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst. Hundreds of civilian responders and government officials participated in the exercise for the first time to test the region’s ability to respond to a major hurricane in New Jersey. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Zachary Wilson/Released.)
by Staff Sgt. Zachary Wilson
U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center
8/5/2010 - JOINT BASE McGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. -- Airmen from the U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center recorded a significant milestone this week as they hosted their first Defense Support to Civil Authorities exercise involving hundreds of federal, state, local and military participants at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J.
"The 421st Combat Training Squadron began planning this Defense Support of Civil Authority Eagle Flag exercise a nearly a year ago," said Lt. Col. David Lenderman, 421st Combat Training Squadron commander. "This Eagle Flag has been one of many firsts. It's the first DSCA Eagle Flag which has involvement from the whole of government with the planning and execution of the exercise. It is also the first time we've had the 108th Contingency Response Group from the New Jersey Air National Guard participate. It is also the first time we've had the Disaster Aeromedical Staging Facility from Air Mobility Command participate."
The scenario, framed within the context of the Center's recurring Eagle Flag exercise, brought together federal, state, local and military officials to test the area's ability to respond to a major hurricane event simulating many casualties and significant amounts of damage to the surrounding areas.
"There are a lot of moving parts to this exercise and I think when I say, 'everyone is learning a ton about each other's capabilities', I speak for all the participants," Colonel Lenderman said.
Other members of the Eagle Flag team here agreed.
"This exercise is on a larger scale than usual," said Master Sgt. Edgar Santiago, the day shift cadre leader for the U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center team. "We are looking at how we, as a military, coordinate with the other agencies as well as introducing them to Eagle Flag as a possible training venue for future DSCA exercises."
Dozens of role players converged upon the responders with mock injuries carefully crafted by U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center medical cadre, testing the abilities of emergency responders to treat and move the casualties. Additionally, officials coordinated the response to the hurricane in a joint operations center to ensure the situation was kept under control as more requests for support and aid flooded in.
The exercise was only the second time in 30 Eagle Flags that a Guard unit participated, as the 123rd Contingency Response Group from the Kentucky Guard recently completed Eagle Flag exercise 10-3 (the third of four annual Eagle Flag exercises), held here last week. This is the first time a New Jersey Guard unit has participated, according to Sergeant Santiago.
For the Expeditionary Center, the involvement of civil authorities was a first during Eagle Flag but the standard exercise procedures used in other scenarios were easily applied, according to Tech. Sgt. John Barboni, a 421st Combat Training Squadron cadre member who is working his 25th Eagle Flag exercise.
"We are still providing the same level of support (as past Eagle Flag exercises)," he said. "We're just using different players and scenarios."
However, unlike normal Eagle Flag operations, cadre from the U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center are only evaluating military members, mainly the 108th CRG, and allowing the civilian agencies to observe and control their own entities. Normally EC cadre evaluate the entire spectrum of Eagle Flag ops.
"We would not control the civilian agencies if this was a real-world scenario, we would work with them," Sergeant Barboni said. "We are evaluating how our military people operate and how they work with their civilian partners."
Responders and authorities from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management as well as local county and municipal authorities all worked hand-in-hand to respond to the emergency as well as cooperating with the 108th CRG.
"One of our main functions during this exercise is to maintain the interoperability between the many civilian agencies participating and the military," said Mr. David Griffin, a civilian contractor with Mission Essential Personnel, who works for the 421st Combat Training Squadron to plan and implement Eagle Flag scenarios.
For Staff Sgt. Brian Lockhart, also of the 421st CTS with an Emergency Management background, the exercise was special.
"I'm really excited to be a part of this joint exercise - we are getting a chance to test this real-world capability."
As the exercise is completed this week, U.S Air Force Expeditionary Center officials are confident the unique capabilities of the center and cadre assigned here contributed to the overall success of the mission.
As the exercise is completed this week, U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center (EC) officials are confident the unique capabilities of the center and cadre assigned here contributed to the overall success of the mission. According to Brig. Gen. Rick Devereaux, EC Commander, "Eagle Flag epitomizes our slogan, Building Airpower from the Ground Up. It's where we integrate many specialties and ground support functions to exercise our military's response to scenarios requiring a rapid airlift and distribution effort."
"None of this would have happened without the tireless efforts of the Airmen from the 421st Combat Training Squadron and the United States Expeditionary Center," Colonel Lenderman said.