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Homeland Security

Defenders prepare to support Hurricane Florence relief efforts

By Suzan Holl September 17, 2018

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. -- Soldiers from the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 20th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives (CBRNE) Command prepared to respond to the devastation from Hurricane Florence as the storm made landfall in the Carolinas Friday.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and communities who are in the path of Hurricane Florence," said Brig. Gen. James Bonner, 20th CBRNE commanding general and native of Anna, Illinois.

"Part of our duty as American Soldiers is that we are prepared to provide support and assistance to local civil authorities if they request it during an emergency or natural disaster," Bonner said. "If needed, the Soldiers of the 20th CBRNE Command are prepared and ready to provide support to state and local agencies in their relief efforts."

Capt. Ralph Miller, HHC commander, is in charge of the preparation and will lead the convoy if called upon. According to Miller, Soldiers worked throughout the week conducting preventative maintenance checks and services (PMCS) on all of their high-water capable vehicles which include the light-medium tactical vehicles and the family of medium tactical vehicles within the company.

"Additionally, this includes ensuring that we are able to sustain ourselves with fuel," he added. "We have the ability to transport water, food, and aid to the populous if assistance is requested.

"Preparation also entails installation and testing of communications platforms because communication is imperative to mission success," said Miller of Doniphan, Missouri. "We developed a reliable primary, alternate, contingency and emergency (PACE) plan in the event that we are called upon."

Miller said they loaded meals ready to eat (MREs) onto pallets and have a sufficient reserve available for the Soldiers called upon to support or to distribute to our fellow citizens, if necessary. They also have cots for themselves and each Soldier has a specific packing list for items that coincides for this type of mission.

At this point it is hard to predict just how long the Soldiers will stay and assist with relief but Miller says they are prepared to stay as long as necessary or until they receive a change of mission. "It makes me feel proud that I serve an organization that is prepared to assist when called upon. I know that we have a lot of Soldiers who have family members in the affected areas and they take this type of mission very personal."

The Soldiers' actions are in line with the command's readiness initiative, and although they have not received any official request for assistance they will be prepared and ready to go if or when that request comes. The command also has several units located across the country that are standing by to support those in hurricane affected areas if called upon.

The Soldiers of the 20th CBRNE Command play a vital role in homeland defense and defense support to civil authorities (DSCA) and stand ready to provide Department of Defense support to the relief effort for our fellow Americans that have been affected by Hurricane Florence.

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