Playbooks Shape Northern Command Disaster Relief

Playbooks Shape Northern Command Disaster Relief

Photo by: Florida National Guard

May 1, 2017

Lessons learned from the Hurricane Katrina disaster in 2005 have led to disaster-relief “playbooks” jointly developed by U.S. Northern Command and the Federal Emergency Management Agency that include scenarios, pre-scripted mission assignments and resource coordination.

The playbooks are filled with several potential catastrophic scenarios, such as an earthquake and tsunami on the West Coast or detonation of an improvised nuclear device on the East Coast. The playbook also lists pre-scripted mission assignments for each scenario so when something happens, NorthCom, part of whose mission is to provide support for natural or man-made domestic catastrophes, has mission assignments that are ready to go.

“We’ve come a long way since Hurricane Katrina and we’ve learned a lot from Superstorm Sandy [in 2012],” Lt. Gen. Reynold N. Hoover, deputy commander of Northern Command, said in remarks at the General Bernard W. Rogers Strategic Issues Forum hosted by the Association of the U.S. Army’s Institute of Land Warfare.

“With this playbook we know what FEMA’s going to ask for in the first minutes of the operation,” he said, emphasizing that all disasters “are inherently local” and that Northern Command is in support of governors, state emergency managers, local county officials, FEMA or other federal agencies.

As a result of the close partnerships developed over more than 10 years, Northern Command is fully integrated with FEMA’s five-year disaster-relief exercise cycle. Next year’s disaster scenario will be a hurricane that barrels up the East Coast.

“We from the military need to understand that the governors and state emergency managers and local county officials are the ones who are going to tell us what help they need,” he said. “Because of relationships we’ve fostered over time, we’re ready to provide the right support when and where required.”