Monday, 23 March 2009

Disaster management - an Air Force angle

Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF)
A humanitarian situation for an training exercise. Good to see some variety being injected into validation exercises.
Pacific alert
17 March 09
By FLTLT Carl Lorrigan
THE scenario: flooding on a scale never seen before has hit a Pacific neighbour, destroying infrastructure, causing outbreaks of vector-borne diseases, food shortages and simmering tribal tensions. Not for real, of course, but it raises the question: if it did really happen, how would we help? That was answered positively when the Northern Expeditionary Combat Support Squadron (NECSS) Command Post (CP) team went to work on just that situation for four days last month as part of Exercise Night Watch. For the purposes of the scenario, the stricken country was dubbed Stunod.

NECSS was required to establish Air Point of Departure (APOD) services at Stunod Airfield, assist with the supply of essential provisions and provide combat service support to an Expeditionary Health Flight. Night Watch is a newly-developed training activity by HQ 396 Expeditionary Combat Support Wing in the form of a CP exercise. It was specifically designed to validate the online status of NECSS before going online on March 1. WGCDR Neville Donnelly, from the HQ 396ECSW validation team, said he believed it was the first time this type of exercise had been developed and executed specifically for an ECSS CP. “Exercise Control tested CP staff by generating a wide range of scenarios and communications from all command levels,” he said.

The exercise started after NECSS executives participated in lessons regarding the roles and responsibilities within a CP and set up of the squadron CP at RAAF Base Tindal. While having to maintain command and control of APOD services, the team was faced with a diverse range of realistic injects testing CP procedures within an uncertain environment. Scenarios included past challenges and incidents that still occur within a deployed environment. Night Hawk was conducted successfully and all exercise objectives were achieved. The NECSS command and control elements met the challenges posed by the exercise. HQ 396ECSW has also further developed a workable ECSS CP exercise model for future training applications.

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