TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. – The Air Force Civil Engineer Center’s Natural Disaster Recovery Division, located at Tyndall, recently created a new branch to enhance readiness and preparedness for the next natural disaster that may strike an Air Force installation.
“It’s only a matter of time before another natural disaster impacts one of our installations again and we want to not only be ready to respond, but be in a better position to move through the process with an experienced plan of action,” said Lt. Col. Brandon Rocker, NDR’s Response Operations Branch chief.
The response ops branch is developing a disaster response team staged, trained and equipped to support wing commanders, enabling them to get the mission back up and running after a natural disaster occurs.
One of the main objectives will be to help formulate the cost of unplanned military construction needed to stabilize a base after a disaster, said Rocker
“The quicker a base can accurately achieve this, the better positioned it will be to start recovering,” he said.
To better prepare the response team, the branch executed a tabletop exercise to define its roles and responsibilities and look at existing capabilities across AFCEC. The four-hour session simulated a response to a hypothetical Category 3 or greater hurricane making landfall at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, and the surrounding area.
“The event was successful because we leveraged subject matter experts and team leaders to openly discuss how they would respond during specific events and scenarios,” said Col. Travis Leighton, NDR’s division chief. “We were able to identify areas where we can improve and expand on AFCEC’s existing capabilities.”
The response ops branch can assist wing commanders in accessing resources already available when the next natural disaster occurs. The team can also help facilitate assistance from AFCEC’s Civil Engineer Maintenance Inspection and Repair Team, or CEMIRT, the Airfield Pavement Evaluation, or APE team, and more.
“We have established relationships within the Department of Defense and other national organizations that can provide support in addition to AFCEC’s capabilities,” said Rocker.
The team brings together the expertise, lessons learned and knowledge of available resources needed to guide an installation through the process of recovering from a natural disaster.