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NEWS | May 22, 2017

Emergency preparedness liaison officers get ready for disaster response

By Capt. Miles Kehoe U.S. Army North Public Affairs

Emergency preparedness liaison officers, or EPLOs, from across the nation took part in the annual Joint Defense Support of Civil Authorities Preparedness Workshop at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston May 15-19.


The workshop brings EPLOs together to share ideas and better prepare for disaster response. EPLOs are military officers from each of the branches of service who are responsible for planning, coordinating, and implementing the Department of Defense response to requests for assistance. These requests can come from state, local, or tribal authorities.


In his opening remarks, Lt. Gen. Jeffrey S. Buchanan, commander, U.S. Army North, said Army North has three major mission sets: homeland defense, defense support of civil authorities, and theater security cooperation.


Homeland defense is the defense of the continental United States. Defense support of civil authorities is the process used to provide support from the Department of Defense to local, state, tribal, and federal agencies.  Theater security cooperation is the partnership and cooperation between the militaries of Canada, Mexico, and the United States.


“We are in support,” Buchanan reminded the EPLOs in attendance that we as the military are not in charge in a disaster response in the U.S. “We must strive for unity of effort and when providing resources after a disaster, we need to balance between anticipation and tactical patience. Balancing anticipation against tactical patience is about prioritization of resources. Weighing the requirement to never be late to need against the need to posture the right resources in the right locations.”


Speaking on support to local state and federal agencies, Buchanan added that “we must measure our success by their success and figure out a common purpose and work toward it, working together to solve the problem.”


 As disaster response is a joint operation between the services, the general reminded the EPLOs to “be leery of single-service solutions to problems and look across the services for the best capabilities to solve the problem.”