By Cmdr. Kip Wright, Navy Emergency Preparedness Officer Program
WASHINGTON – Members of the Navy Emergency Preparedness Liaison Officer (NEPLO) Program are ready for this year’s hurricane season.
Approximately 25 Reservists with the NEPLO program, which is managed by Commander, Navy Installations Command (CNIC), participated alongside their active-duty and civilian teammates in Hurricane Exercise/Citadel-Gale (HURREX/CG) 2019, an annual hurricane preparedness exercise designed to prepare the Navy to effectively respond to large scale weather events striking U.S. east coast regions.
“This exercise is an excellent opportunity to see how the regions would respond to a hurricane …so that when a real one hits we’ll have a good understanding of how to operate,” said Capt. Andrew Shank, the commanding officer of Naval District Washington (NDW) NEPLO detachment. “Being able to build the relationships prior to a disaster happening is a key to success. Our No. 1 priority is communications, so that we can enable lifesaving efforts."
Teams at CNIC headquarters, NDW, Navy Region Mid-Atlantic, Navy Region Southeast and their installations practiced preparation, response and recovery procedures for two simulated hurricanes that threatened the East Coast and Gulf Coast during the exercise held April 15-26.
NEPLOs, which are all Navy Reservists, are integrated into joint teams ashore and deployed on Navy ships underway during real-world events to direct Defense Support of Civil Authorities (DSCA).
Under the U.S. Constitution, military personnel are limited in what domestic duties they may perform. DSCA is the way in which military resources can be used legally to support missions normally undertaken by civil authorities. These missions include responses to natural and man-made disasters, law enforcement support and special events.
“It’s important to exercise our processes and build personal relationships during training evolutions so that we can rapidly restore our installations to full mission status… while also supporting local authorities to save lives, prevent human suffering and mitigate great property damage in the community,” said Capt. Brian Heym, who is assigned to NDW’s NEPLO detachment. Heym worked closely with various external organizations during the exercise to ensure that any DSCA requirements for the region were coordinated and accomplished within guidelines.
For those like Yeoman 1st Class Todd Williams who deployed for Hurricanes Florence and Michael in 2018, the exercise was “very much similar to a real-world event.”
“I tend to thrive during fast-paced, high-tempo situations,” said Todd Williams, of Lynchburg, Virginia, who served as a NEPLO assistant during the exercise at the U.S. Fleet Forces Command’s (USFF) Maritime Operations Center. “I believe that is why I enjoy coming to USFF. The days can be long, tiresome and overwhelming at times, but being a part of the team is very rewarding when things move in a positive direction.”
The Atlantic hurricane season runs June 1 through Nov. 30. For more information about hurricane preparedness, visit Ready Navy’s Web site at https://www.ready.navy.mil/.