Army Engineers join La. Guard’s disaster response exercise

By Staff Sgt. Noshoba Davis, Louisiana National Guard Public Affairs Office

PINEVILLE, La. – Regular Army Soldiers with the 46th Engineer Battalion out of Fort Polk in Leesville and the Louisiana National Guard’s A Company, 3rd Battalion, 156th Infantry Regiment, 256th Infantry Brigade Combat Team conducted a mission transfer of command as part of the annual statewide Disaster Response Exercise (DRX), April 8.

“This is the first time we have conducted a transfer of command between a Title 10 unit and a Title 32 National Guard unit,” said Lt. Col. Lee Breard. the deputy director of strategy and policy for the LANG. “During the training, the 46th Engineers from Fort Polk and A Company 3-156 Infantry will be conducting Immediate Response Authority (IRA) flooding response and search and rescue missions in Evans, Louisiana.”

During the exercise, a simulated storm system moved from Texas to Louisiana and caused flash flooding in Vernon Parish near the city of Evans. In response to the simulated flooding, the Vernon Parish Emergency Operations Center requested high-water vehicles (HWV) and search and rescue (SAR) support for the affected areas.

After receiving an alert from the Vernon Parish EOC, Soldiers of A Company prepped HWVs and personnel to respond, while the 46th

Engineers simultaneously used IRA, implemented by the commander of Fort Polk, to respond and begin SAR operations.

“Under IRA, Title 10 service members can conduct lifesaving operations to protect people and critical infrastructures for up to 72 hours.

This time limit can be extended with the northern command’s approval,” said Breard. “Once the National Guard arrives on scene, a mission transfer of command will take place between the two units, and A Company, 3-156th will take over the operation.”

“The DRX provides a venue to train on the proper means to transfer command via the Incident Command System and Form 201. This is a way to improve the concept and formalize the process for future real-world events,” said Breard.

In addition to the transfer of command, LANG Soldiers conducted ground search and rescue operations using HWVs. Rescued role players were taken to a lily pad, which is a consolidation point for rescued personnel.

“The joint training provides our Soldiers a chance to see the part they play in a full-scale operation,” said Staff Sgt. Victor Turner, the readiness noncommissioned officer for A Company, 3-156. “It also allows them to build relationships with other agencies to further the progression of our efforts within the community.”

The exercise provides LANG and other agencies with a controlled environment to train together, test capabilities, and coordinate responses to ensure a rapid response during an all-hazard disaster response.

“Building relationships and a shared understanding between agencies are the primary means to improve our support and response to the citizens of Louisiana. Not only does this training make the LANG better, but it creates partnerships that improve the emergency response enterprise,” said Breard. “Training events such as the annual Disaster Readiness Exercise prepare the Louisiana emergency response enterprise for hurricane season and to ‘Protect What Matters.’”

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