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1st AD Soldiers train on disaster response coordination

Soldiers assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 1st Armored Division, and Army Reserve Soldiers from the 410th Civil Affairs Battalion listen to retired Col. Steven D. Katz, center, a humanitarian assistance advisor-military for the U.S. Agency for International Development, during a Joint Humanitarian Operations Course at the Master Sgt. Roy B. Benavidez U.S. Army Reserve Center in El Paso March 2. Photo by Cpl. Von Marie Donato, 1st AD Public Affairs.

Soldiers assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 1st Armored Division, and Army Reserve Soldiers from the 410th Civil Affairs Battalion listen to retired Col. Steven D. Katz, center, a humanitarian assistance advisor-military for the U.S. Agency for International Development, during a Joint Humanitarian Operations Course at the Master Sgt. Roy B. Benavidez U.S. Army Reserve Center in El Paso March 2. Photo by Cpl. Von Marie Donato, 1st AD Public Affairs.

By Cpl. Von Marie Donato, 1st Armored Division Public Affairs:

(El Paso, Texas, March. 16, 2017) Hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes, floods and complex emergencies – the catastrophic results of these disasters require immediate expert attention and recovery at a moment’s notice.

That’s what the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance and the U.S. Agency for International Development prepare for and respond to when needed.

OFDA’s mandate is to save lives, alleviate human suffering and reduce the economic and social impact of disasters. The USAID serves as the first responders on behalf the U.S. government to lead and manage humanitarian assistance and disaster response around the world.

Soldiers from Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 1st Armored Division, and Army Reserve Soldiers from the 410th Civil Affairs Battalion participated in a Joint Humanitarian Operations Course hosted by USAID at the Master Sgt. Roy B. Benavidez U.S. Army Reserve Center in El Paso March 1 and 2.

The objective of the course is to educate Soldiers on civil-military roles in an international disaster response scenario, describing the inner-workings of how the U.S. military and USAID cooperate with each another to provide effective and immediate disaster response.

“Soldiers taking this course will understand how the U.S. government responds to overseas disaster and how the military fits into the response process,” said retired Col. Steven D. Katz, a humanitarian assistance advisor-military for USAID and a course instructor at the JHOC. “They also gain understanding on how the international humanitarian community reacts to overseas disasters and how all the pieces fit together.”

“The course has helped our Soldiers understand the vast levels of coordination that are required with USAID, especially in regards to logistics, transportation, and financing,” said Maj. Bryan Harmon, chief of civil military operations for 1st AD. “It has also given our Soldiers a larger perspective, outside of the Department of Defense, showing that our interagency partners are critical in every effort we conduct.”

Mission readiness is key to every Army unit and is part of Maj. Gen. Pat White’s list of priorities as commanding general for 1st AD and Fort Bliss.

“Our relationship with USAID is an important one. They bring capabilities that the U.S. military doesn’t have and vice versa,” Harmon added.

“For Soldiers deploying to the Middle East in support of current operations, this course is certainly beneficial due to the humanitarian crisis in Iraq and Syria,” Katz said. “As the U.S. government is conducting humanitarian efforts, the U.S. military is also conducting its operations and it’s helpful to have that awareness.”

The JHOC can benefit Soldiers from a variety of specialties including logistics, transportation, aviation, legal, operations, civil affairs, engineering (and) intelligence, just to name a few, Katz said.

“Each staff section can definitely gain different benefits from attending this course. This will only enhance our ability to plan and prepare for future operational missions,” Harmon said. “Understanding the interagency collaboration is beneficial for everyone.”

USAID annually hosts approximately 120 JHOCs for all U.S. military branches. For more information on hosting a JHOC at your military installation, email jhoc@usaid.gov.

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