Simulated disasters promote joint endeavors

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Saphfire Cook
  • 355th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
When an area experiences catastrophic events on a larger scale than local, state and other federal agencies can handle, they can request military assistance, known as Defense Support of Civil Authorities.

Pararescue squadrons from D-M and local Arizona emergency management organizations recently participated in a DSCA-driven exercise, dubbed Resolute Angel.

Resolute Angel was executed as part of the much larger two-week, multinational search and rescue exercise Angel Thunder, which features various simulated scenarios.

"Resolute Angel was designed to exercise DSCA," said Capt. Matt Babcock, Resolute Angel operations officer. "We kicked the exercise off with a simulated earthquake that had a magnitude of 8.0 on the Richter scale."

During the initial response, local and state agencies attempted to resolve the situation themselves.

"The purpose of this exercise is DSCA, so we have to make sure that they are overwhelmed and have to call in military support," Babcock said. "Our simulation cell has been feeding them exercise injects that are a result of this earthquake; things like bridges being down and waterlines breaking. We're going to keep hitting them with injects until they say uncle."

Agencies can "say uncle" in two different ways. A formal declaration can be made to the federal government, or the governor of the affected state can request immediate response from surrounding installations.

"A formal declaration is a lengthy, bureaucratic process because to bring military assets into a state is a non-standard practice on American soil," Babcock said. "With IR, the governor can receive military assistance for 72 hours without going through the federal government."

For the purposes of Resolute Angel, the governor of Arizona made an IR call to Col. Kevin Blanchard, 355th Fighter Wing commander.

Once DSCA was established, pararescue teams were sent out on several exercise scenarios, including a bus crash at the Grand Canyon, stranded hikers and a mass casualty incident.

Resolute Angel featured participation from more than 150 volunteers.

"We put our "survivors" in five different areas covering the states of Arizona and New Mexico," said Maj. Ken Knox, 355th Fighter Wing Plans and Programs and Resolute Angel lead planner. "It was a three-day exercise that integrated the multinational, federal, local and Department of Defense rescue assets into a coherent team. The exercise was a success and helped the rescue forces prepare for the unlikely event that we'll have to do this for real. If there is a time DSCA is put into play, we'll know what to do and how to do it better based on the lessons learned from this exercise."