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JBSA joins Hurricane Harvey disaster relief efforts

By Dan Hawkins | 502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs | Aug. 29, 2017

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO, Texas —

Several mission partners across the base have sprung together into action setting up installation support bases to support Hurricane Harvey disaster relief operations across the south Texas region.

The hurricane, projected by weather forecasters to dump rain on the south Texas region for several more days, has necessitated the activation of both active duty military personnel and the entire Texas National Guard.

U.S. Army North (Fifth Army), headquartered at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston, is scheduled to deploy Task Force 51 to Kelly Field Annex adjacent to JBSA-Lackland to provide command and control over Title 10 assets, which will provide coordinated support to civil authorities.  Task Force 51’s mission is to deploy a contingency command post to conduct support for Defense Support of Civil Authority, homeland defense and theater security cooperation in order to promote the defense and security of the United States.

“We [ARNORTH] are prepared to help the State of Texas and FEMA with saving lives.” said Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan, ARNORTH commander. “So far they have done a great job responding to the needs of the people, but the weather isn’t breaking so we will stay vigilant and increase our posture to assist as needed."

At JBSA-Seguin, the Defense Logistics Agency and Federal Emergency Management Agency, with the support of the 502nd Air Base Wing, set up an Incident Support Base operation Aug. 24.  The mission includes pre-positioning of supplies including water, meals, blankets and other resources closer to the affected areas. During normal operations, Seguin Auxiliary Airfield is owned and operated by JBSA and serves as a flying training location for pilots from the 12th Flying Training Wing, located at JBSA-Randolph

A second ISB is being coordinated for stand-up at JBSA-Randolph to help manage overflow from the Seguin operation with the support of both the 502nd ABW and the 12th FTW. 

JBSA-Camp Bullis has been tapped as a bed-down location for both the Texas Army National Guard and Texas Air National Guard, which was activated for the relief efforts. 

The 502nd ABW Emergency Operations Center has been at the hub of emergency management actions since the storm began to threaten landfall on Aug. 24. 

“We stood up (Aug. 24) and we have been manned 24 hours a day since with a cadre of very experienced and dedicated emergency managers and emergency support function representatives from the 502nd ABW and 59th MDW,” Col. Jonathan Wright, 502nd Installation Support Group commander and EOC director.  “The EOC has provided a critical link between the JBSA Crisis Action Team for strategic command and control to the Unit Control Centers for tactical execution.  We also have representatives from the Port of San Antonio and the Air Force liaison officer to FEMA, as well as maintaining communication with the city of San Antonio's EOC.”

“We’ve been ready for situations like this,” Wright said. “Our job requires us to coordinate actions across multiple command and jurisdictions in an efficient manner that maximizes resources across JBSA.  We’re proud to perform this enabling role in support of Hurricane Harvey recovery operations.”

Since the stand-up, the EOC has been supporting a variety of Hurricane Harvey missions, both across JBSA and to the areas of Corpus Christi, Houston, and Dallas/Ft Worth.  In addition to previously mentioned missions, the 502nd Civil Engineer Squadron has been working around the clock to respond to JBSA-specific storm damage, while personnel from both the 502nd Logistics Readiness Squadron and the 502nd Civil Engineer Squadron to provide refueling support and explosive ordnance support for the President's visit to Corpus Christi, Wright said.

“The bottom line is JBSA’s (and the 502 ABW’s) vision is to be the premier installation in the Department of Defense.  The integrated teamwork among multiple Services and external agencies is an outstanding example of us all working towards that vision.”