AFNORTH ready to support Sandy relief efforts

10/30/2012 - TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. – As Hurricane Sandy makes its way across the Northeast, Air Forces Northern (AFNORTH) has personnel in place to provide military resources to civil authorities if requested.

AFNORTH’s National Security Emergency Preparedness Directorate (NSEP) has deployed 18 Emergency Preparedness Liaison Officers (EPLOs) in response to damages caused by Sandy. Six EPLOs have deployed to the Federal Emergency Management Agency Region I, three to Region II, eight to Region III, and one to the AFNORTH NSEP Defense Support of Civil Authorities (DSCA) Cell here.

“We’ve been watching Sandy for over a week as she made her through the Caribbean barreling to the east coast,” said Rod Simmons, AFNORTH NSEP director. “As soon as it looked like this storm might hit our shores we had EPLO’s calling in letting us know they ready to go when needed.”

Air Force EPLOs are senior Air Force Reserve officers who are subject matter exports in state and regional disaster response plans, advising state and regions on Air Force capabilities that may be used during disaster response.

The EPLOs’ skills, experience and knowledge of U.S. Air Force capabilities can assist in determining the right resources if Department of Defense assets are requested by civilian authorities to support the response within the stricken areas.

“NSEP is always in a supporting role. We currently have 18 EPLO’s deployed and two en route to various operation and coordination centers throughout the Northeast ready to support civil authorities,” said Simmons. “EPLOs offer local and state officials knowledge of DoD assets and reach back to AFNORTH to be able to request those assets.”

EPLOs are geographically assigned to each state and the 10 FEMA Regional Response Coordination Centers. The officers come from a wide range of career fields including air operations, logistics, medical, security forces and public affairs.

AFNORTH is the Air Force organization responsible for providing Air Force resources to U.S. Northern Command, Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., for DSCA operations.

Although AFNORTH has a close eye on Hurricane Sandy and potential DSCA operations that may be requested, the Continental U.S. North American Aerospace Defense Command Region (CONR) and the 601st Air and Space Operations Center (AOC) continue to maintain the homeland defense mission.

“Our number one priority remains air defense of the continental United States, Virgin Island and Puerto Rico,” said Col. Randy Spear, 601st AOC commander. “We have a huge mission here, defending the homeland and providing support to state and local authorities after natural disasters like hurricanes, wildfires or floods. I am extremely proud of the men and women of this command, and their ability to give 110 percent to both missions simultaneously.”

As the Continental United States geographical component of the bi-national command NORAD, CONR provides airspace surveillance and control and directs air sovereignty activities for the continental U.S. region. CONR and its assigned Air Force and Army assets throughout the country ensure air safety and security against potential air threats.

The 601st AOC is responsible for detecting, deterring, defending and if necessary, defeating any aviation threat to the citizens of the United States and to U.S. critical infrastructure. The AOC is primarily manned by the Florida Air National Guard’s 101st Air and Space Operations Group.

For additional information visit facebook.com/AmericasAOC or twitter.com/1stAF.

Article source: http://www.1af.acc.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123324385

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