FORT INDIANTOWN GAP, Pa. - More than 20 members of the Pennsylvania National Guard joint staff and partners from the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency piloted a three-day staff-training course March 7-9 led by trainers from U.S. Northern Command.
The trial course will be the Phase II of the Joint Staff Training Course, according to Mike Holly, one of the instructors.
“The course will be offered to those states that would like to continue on with advanced concepts from the Joint Staff Training Course,” he said.
The Joint Staff Training Course updates, trains and evaluates staff on emergency preparedness contingencies and crisis action planning through a series of notional scenarios using Joint Publication 5-0 as a framework.
“Pennsylvania was honored to be selected as a pilot location,” said Col. Timothy Brooks, chief of the Joint Staff. “We have been very active in domestic operations this last year and were looking to continue to refine and hone our staff planning skills.”
Holly said Pennsylvania, as a large state, was ideal for testing this concept for the course.
The notional scenario used was a Category 2 hurricane. Guard members needed to plan an appropriate response and coordinate with their state higher headquarters, PEMA. Staff members from PEMA attended the course and were ready to answer questions.
“Participating in exercises like these further strengthens our partnership,” said Timothy Sevison, deputy director for operations at PEMA. “We are always looking to prepare for disasters before they start.”
Staff members were happy with the advanced training.
“This took the initial concept of the Joint Staff Training Course and leveled it up for me,” said Maj. Justin Cassidy, future operations officer. “I was able to coordinate with my fellow staff members and improve my existing staff products for emergency response operations.”
U.S. Northern Command intends to continue to provide these training opportunities to National Guard organizations.
The Pennsylvania Guard is one of the largest and most deployed National Guards in the nation. In addition to its federal mission, the Pennsylvania National Guard responds to domestic emergencies, working with the PEMA, FEMA, U.S. Northern Command and dozens of federal, state and local agencies. The Guard maintains a joint operations center at Fort Indiantown Gap staffed by Pennsylvania Guard members that support its domestic mission.