Louisiana National Guard senior leaders talk disaster response

By Staff Sgt. Garrett Dipuma, Louisiana National Guard Public Affairs Office

NEW ORLEANS – Louisiana National Guard (LANG) senior leaders held a conference to discuss lessons learned from past disaster responses at Jackson Barracks in New Orleans, April 10.

The purpose of the conference was to serve as an opportunity for past and current senior military leaders to share their experiences working with local, state and federal partner agencies that the LANG supports during emergency operations.

“After Hurricane Laura, we started putting senior leaders into parish emergency operations centers as senior military advisors,” said Brig. Gen. Thomas Friloux, LANG director of the joint staff. “We did that again last year after Hurricane Ida, so now we want to turn those experiences into a more formal training event and discussion so we know we send the right people with the right expectation during a response.”

The LANG has found that it is beneficial to place more experienced senior leaders in parish emergency operations centers (EOC) as advisors to local officials, as those personnel will more readily have knowledge on how the LANG can best support local agencies after an event.

According to Col. Kenneth T. Baillie, executive officer to the adjutant general, the most valuable experiences from the event were capturing experiences from recent events, recapturing experiences from retired general officers who attended and having the perspective of Collin Arnold, director of the New Orleans Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.

Arnold said that the biggest benefit he has seen from having a senior leader working with him after a disaster is that it streamlines getting the LANG a defined mission to help in the response effort. He said that there are legal nuances that city, parish or state officials may not have knowledge of when making a request of the National Guard, and having an expert in place who can explain what needs to be done to make the mission happen is a valuable resource.

As the LANG shifts towards sending senior military advisors to EOCs, the current priority is to build and maintain relationships with EOC directors and ensure that local leaders know that the LANG is always ready to support their end goal after a disaster.

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