Catastrophic Disaster Response Staff Officer's Handbook
Thoughts from a Brigade Commander
The following are thoughts from a brigade commander whose brigade participated in Joint Task Force Katrina:
As early as possible, determine who your counterparts are in the area of operation (AO) and who you will interact with at the local, state, and federal levels. It is essential that you establish close links and have good communications. Share your personal and organizational expertise.
In initial meetings with local leadership, determine and announce what rules apply. Make it clear what you can and cannot do. Provide expectation management. Announce what will be your means of search and rescue and presence patrols.
Immediately establish a presence. Your unit represents safety, security, and stability. Be accessible and available to community leaders and government officials. Use your unit command posts and fixed sites as link-up points for the public. As a result of communications and command and control systems, your headquarters (HQs) can squash harmful rumors and provide the candid news people need.
Be alert for “fratricide” in all projects and efforts. Ensure your unit is not duplicating the work/efforts of other organizations.
Know all organizations, non governmental organizations, private volunteer organizations, and government agencies, that are operating in your AO. Know their chains of command and where their command posts are located. Make maximum use of liaison officers from your HQs to other agencies.
Give the people what they need in terms of humanitarian supplies, news, stability, and security. The disrupted and distressed public will see you as a force for stability.
Saturate your AO with patrols. Make your presence known. Push psychological operations, civil affairs, and military police units out into the sector.
Understand Title 10, Title 32 and Posse Commitatus rules. Know the rules of engagement.
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