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AFNORTH expands forces to support FEMA during upcoming hurricane season

Air Forces Northern crisis action team members discuss hurricane-response options during Hurricane Harvey operations in 2017. (Air Force photo by Mary McHale)

Air Forces Northern crisis action team members discuss hurricane-response options during Hurricane Harvey operations in 2017. (Air Force photo by Mary McHale)

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- With an eye on hurricane preparedness and response capability, Air Forces Northern is participating in the annual Defense Support of Civil Authorities exercise Ardent Sentry 2018, May 7-11, to grow its force of trained crisis responders.

The exercise scenario shows a hurricane approaching the east coast of the United States, eventually making landfall in the Washington D.C. region, and civil authorities request military assistance from the DoD.

To expand their response capability, AFNORTH personnel are overseeing reactions from the 186th Air Refueling Wing cadre to the simulated hurricane as they implement lessons learned from the 2017 hurricane season.

“The 186th AW provided us support last year during the hurricane season but the unit has a number of new personnel who now have the opportunity to train alongside AFNORTH experts sent from here to Meridian,” said Chuck Stem, AFNORTH lead planner for the exercise.

After AS18, the 186th ARW, out of Key Field Air National Guard Base in Mississippi, will be better prepared to augment AFNORTH and to also take the lead during a hurricane response if Tyndall AFB personnel are required to evacuate.

“We have various scenarios that will require subject matter experts to work through mobility, logistics, legal and other factors,” said Stem.

Last fall, AFNORTH personnel, under the authority of U.S. Northern Command, supported FEMA by working around the clock for a continuous 97 days in support of relief efforts after hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria heavily impacted primarily Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

AFNORTH provided search and rescue, air mobility and airlift, medical, logistics and various other support forces and continuously monitored if additional forces were needed to bolster the organization’s capacity to meet FEMA requests.