MONTGOMERY, AL (04/24/2013)(readMedia)-- The Alabama National Guard has responded to many hurricanes in its history. In order to respond quickly and effectively, the Alabama Guard still rehearses hurricane response annually. Guardsmen from units across the state gathered at the Alabama National Guard headquarters here, Sunday, April 21, 2013, for a rehearsal of concept (ROC) drill to rehearse the state's hurricane operations response plan.
Coordinating agencies also took part in the rehearsal, including staff members of the Alabama Emergency Management Agency and U.S. Northern Command.
"The EMA and Alabama National Guard's relationship is seamless," said Jeff Byard, AEMA Executive Operations Officer. "All I have to do is ask and the National Guard responds. The Alabama National Guard is the best in the nation - EMA could not do what they do without them."
The rehearsal includes Alabama National Guard Joint Force Headquarters (JFHQ) staff members and individual unit actions to prepare for a hurricane response. The event covers pre-hurricane season activities, hurricane approach through land fall, and beyond. This ensures that Guardsmen fully understand the response plan at all levels and synchronize actions from the JFHQ level down to the unit level in response to a hurricane.
The rehearsal is a precursor to a weeklong hurricane exercise to be conducted in May. Guardsmen briefed from two lecterns standing on the panhandle of Florida on a map that took up the entire drill hall floor. Other Soldiers used placards to show where their respective units would provide a particular asset at a particular time during response as a 4-foot-wide hurricane symbol approached and then landed on the map that spanned 40 feet wide and 85 feet long.
"This is an exciting event," said Brig. Gen. Allen Harrell, Alabama National Guard director of the joint staff. "I am pleased with how good we have gotten - we are synchronized and coordinated in our expected missions. I am convinced that if we can get our soldiers mobilized and to the point of need, that we can effectively accomplish the mission"
Map: Alabama National Guard Soldiers brief hurricane plans on a 45x80 ft. map at Alabama National Guard headquarters, Montgomery, Ala., April 21, 2013, as part of a rehearsal of concept drill to prepare for the upcoming hurricane season.
Placards: Placards on a 45x80 ft. map of Alabama show Alabama National Guard units across the state and the actions for which those units would be responsible during a hurricane response as part of a rehearsal of concept drill at Alabama National Guard headquarters, Montgomery, Ala., April 21, 2013. The rehearsal is part of the Alabama Guard's preparation for the upcoming hurricane season.