Reservist

ISS1 2019

Reservist Magazine is the award-winning official publication of the United States Coast Guard Reserve. Quarterly issues include news and feature articles about the men and women who comprise America's premier national maritime safety and security

Issue link: https://uscgreservist.epubxp.com/i/1125085

Contents of this Issue

Navigation

Page 35 of 67

Diverse occupations intersect at JTF-MIGOPS A county emergency manager, a Drug Enforcement Administration lawyer, and a substitute teacher walk into a migration crisis. Not a joke, not apocalyptic fiction, but a major exercise supported by the Coast Guard Reserve. The Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Southern Command's annual interagency exercise, Integrated Advance, practices a whole of government response to a maritime mass migration in the Caribbean. The emergency manager, lawyer, teacher, and a few more characters represented Homeland Security Task Force Southeast (HSTF-SE); a standing DHS task force of more than 50 federal, state, and local agencies charged with responding to a maritime mass migration. SOUTHCOM and its components support the Task Force with migrant interdiction vessels, rescue operations, and camp construction to safely house and care for migrants. As the exercise name plainly implies, the characters in our story were tasked with integrating in advance to guarantee a seamless response to a humanitarian and national security crisis. "This exercise was a tremendous opportunity to coordinate federal, state, and local response efforts to a maritime mass migration in the Caribbean," said Capt. Scott Hale, senior reserve officer at the Seventh Coast Guard District and HSTF-SE representative to Naval Station Guantanamo Bay (and the DEA lawyer in the setup). "Illegal maritime migration often results in tragedy. The exhaustive efforts of all participants resulted in valuable lessons learned that will streamline future operations and improve interagency coordination. This exercise directly enhances our ability to save lives and protect our nation." Hale was joined by Rear Adm. Peter Brown, Seventh District Commander and HSTF-SE director, to address the assembled team on the morning of a "tabletop" walkthrough, standing on a gymnasium-sized map of Naval Station Guantanamo Bay on Joint Base San Antonio. The map illustrated a key component of IA 2019: U.S. Army South exercising its migrant camp support plan. The real-life effort would involve thousands of service members and civilians, but just under 300 came together for the practice round. The small DHS contingent included employees from Citizenship and Immigration Services and Immigration and Customs Enforcement who served as direct representatives to Army South that had transitioned into Joint Task Force – Migrant Operations (JTF-MIGOPS). Seven were Coast Guard reservists from Florida, North Carolina and Washington, D.C. Integrated Advance aims to strain DOD and DHS's complimentary migration response plans guiding prevention and response activities during a maritime mass migration. Exercise scenarios test migrant interdiction, care, and repatriation protocols and identify weaknesses in existing policy. Built around hard-learned lessons, these plans reflect past migrations ranging from the Mariel Boat Lift in 1980 to the Haitian earthquake in 2010. The Coast Guard Reserve team also included a city manager, an insurance adjuster, a school health and safety officer and an active-duty public affairs specialist. Far from setting up a punchline, the team of reservists possessed the special formula for a challenging and educational exercise: flexibility, deep wells of experience inside and outside the organization, and comfort navigating the drastically different interagency cultures. In the event of a mass migration, JTF-MIGOPS could be ordered to construct a city-sized migrant camp on Naval Station Guantanamo Bay. The DHS and DOS team supported JTF-MIGOPS in all aspects of camp operations; from safely disembarking migrants pier side to conducting protection interviews and coping with health challenges, the team answered the call. The team bridged experience gaps and exemplified the Coast Guard quality of transitioning seamlessly through defense, law enforcement, and humanitarian mission sets and philosophies. If you find yourself in the shoes of a joint emergency responder integrating into a massive DOD force, consider the following. First, while HSTF-SE in South Florida (and Coast Guardsmen everywhere) uses the Incident Command System, our DOD colleagues do not. Therefore, you must be able to straddle two different systems for planning, battle rhythm, and terminology. For example, DOD may reference amphibious assault tactics to describe efficient waterborne transportation across the waters of Guantanamo Bay and psychological operations to describe communicating with a growing migrant population in the camps. Fortunately, the team leaders, Hale and Cmdr. Natalie Murphy (from Sector Miami), were extensively involved in exercise planning, had joint experience, and were fluent in Army "Hooah." The team fully assimilated into DOD operations and our blue uniforms identified them as subject matter experts to our DOD friends. Next, remain agile and adapt to changing priorities. A mass migration can send a Coast Guard cutter from empty to overburdened with migrants in hours. Our plans are accordingly dynamic, which can be a challenge to Army engineers tasked with building a city from scratch to house a constantly changing population of migrants. Cmdr. Sharon Russell (from the Coast Guard's Office of Defense Operations) served as the Deputy J-3 and assisted the Future Operations Branch to comprehend dynamic migration indicators and warnings to plan camp construction. They discovered that the best practice was acknowledging uncertainty instead of fabricating details and applying comprehensive risk mitigation measures. Despite the comparatively small contingent size, as the "supported command" the Coast Guard's information and requirements had a tremendous impact on DOD planning and operations. Although the Coast Guard's material needs are small compared to our big sister services, Lt. Cmdr. Ed See (from D7) 34 RESERVIST � Issue 1 • 2019

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Reservist - ISS1 2019