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Homeland Security

AFNORTH Airmen support tsunami relief

10/2/2009 - TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (AFNS) -- Air Forces Northern officials recently stood up a defense support of civil authorities operations center here to aid in relief efforts of the tsunami that swept across the U.S. territories of the Samoa Islands, and the Super Typhoon Melor bearing down on Guam.

"We have six emergency preparedness liaison officers currently deployed throughout the U.S. and Pacific providing on-scene information for these two events," said Lt Col Joe Sanders, DSCA operations center chief. "Along with our EPLOs in the field, on Wednesday we began a 24-7 operations center here at AFNORTH to coordinate Air Force assets to civil authorities and reach back support to all deployed EPLOs."

Working alongside U.S. Pacific Command and U.S. Transportation Command, AFNORTH's national emergency preparedness directorate is facilitating Air Force support of civil authorities. Currently AFNSEP has six EPLOs deployed for these emergencies. Three EPLOs are located at FEMA's Region 9 headquarters in Oakland, Calif., and another at FEMA's national headquarters in Washington D.C. The other two EPLOs are located in Guam and Hawaii.

AFNSEP coordinates defense support of civil authorities for natural and man-made disasters or emergencies and provides Air Force leadership critical situational awareness to and from the field.

As the U.S. Northern Command air component, AFNORTH rapidly responds to non-military threats. Under their defense support of civil authorities mission, the organization assists civilian agencies before and during emergencies, natural or man-made disasters and other DoD-approved activities. This role provides the ability to save lives, relieve suffering, prevent property damage and provide humanitarian assistance where and when it is needed most in the U.S.

"Our biggest challenge right now is trying to coordinate airlift across combatant commands and theaters of operation," said Mr. Rodney Simmons, AFNSEP deputy director. "It's a great feeling to be a part of an organization that provides critical support during emergencies such as these."

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