All posts by Edward Rivera

56th Signal Battalion inaugurates new Company Operations Facility

Col. Calvin Hudson, II, commander, Fort Worth District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, talks to Soldiers of Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 56th Signal Battalion prior to a ribbon cutting ceremony inauguration the units Company Operations Facility February 3 on Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Texas.
Col. Calvin Hudson, II, commander, Fort Worth District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, talks to Soldiers of Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 56th Signal Battalion prior to a ribbon cutting ceremony inauguration the units Company Operations Facility February 3 on Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Texas.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony was conducted February 3, by Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 56th Signal Battalion to inaugurate the opening of its new Company Operations Facility on Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Texas.

The COF is the newest operations facility on Joint Base San Antonio and consolidated the Detachment from three separate facilities; a headquarters building with platoon areas, warehouse training facility and a motor pool into one building complex.

Lt. Col. Allen D. Walker, 56th Signal Battalion commander said the new facility increases operational readiness of HHD, 56th Signal Battalion’s, improves its ability to facilitate communications training in one consolidated location and support U.S. Army South exercises and deployments to the U.S. Army South area of responsibility.

U.S. Army Corps Project Manager, Diana Gonzalez said they had to overcome some obstacles, such as not having an end user, until 56th Signal Battalion was assigned the facility. Carlos Morales, executive officer, 56th Signal Battalion, Louis Esqueda, project manager, 502d Engineering Squadron and Kevin Franks, quality assurance representative U.S. Army Corps of Engineers were some of the team members instrumental in ensuring a successful delivery of the facility.

“We were able to come together as a team and communicate everyone’s expectations for this project,” said Gonzalez. “The team arduously worked together to push through the finish line and provide the Soldiers a quality building that better meets their mission’s needs.”

Lt. Col. Allen D. Walker, commander, 56th Signal Battalion presents Diana Gonzalez, project manager, Fort Worth District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers with a commanders coin from Maj. Gen. K. K. Chinn, commander, U.S. Army South February 3, after a ribbon cutting ceremony inaugurating a new Company Operations Facility on Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Texas..
Lt. Col. Allen D. Walker, commander, 56th Signal Battalion presents Diana Gonzalez, project manager, Fort Worth District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers with a commanders coin from Maj. Gen. K. K. Chinn, commander, U.S. Army South February 3, after a ribbon cutting ceremony inaugurating a new Company Operations Facility on Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Texas..

The COF is comprised of a 10,000 square-foot building with a 14,000 square-foot covered exterior concrete hardstand for tactical equipment and vehicles. The facility is designed to enable company operations, store supplies, and facilitate activities. An open bay area and hardstand will be used for contingency command post exercises, U.S. Army South Situational Assessment Team training, communications certification, and other training events to maintain readiness.

“You have a workspace indoors and outdoors that allows for storage, areas where Soldiers can ensure their equipment is properly configured and packed to deploy according to the H-hour sequence, and to train on the equipment you’re deploying with,” said Maj. Gen. K.K. Chinn, Army South commanding general and guest speaker. “To sum it up, Soldiers are going from a cubical city to a facility suited to an operational-deployable unit.”

(From left) Command Sgt. Maj. Carlos Olvera, Capt. Garret Dodgen, Maj. Gen. K.K. Chinn and Lt. Col. Allen Walker cut the ribbon tied across the Company Operations Facility Feb. 3. The 56th Signal Battalion is a deployable unit that provides Army South and U.S. Southern Command with communications support.
(From left) Command Sgt. Maj. Carlos Olvera, Capt. Garret Dodgen, Maj. Gen. K.K. Chinn and Lt. Col. Allen Walker cut the ribbon tied across the Company Operations Facility Feb. 3. The 56th Signal Battalion is a deployable unit that provides Army South and U.S. Southern Command with communications support.

District, local emergency management professionals prepare for weather events table-top exercises

Jeff Mahaffey, deputy chief, Emergency Management, facilitates a table-top exercise with emergency managers, partners and stakeholders on a simulated flood event involving the Town Bluff Dam and Sam Rayburn Reservoir.
Jeff Mahaffey, deputy chief, Emergency Management, facilitates a table-top exercise with emergency managers, partners and stakeholders on a simulated flood event involving the Town Bluff Dam and Sam Rayburn Reservoir.
Sarvi Ashraf, Dam Safety Program Manager gives an overview of Stillhouse Hollow Dam prior to facilitating a table-top exercise with local emergency managers, partners and stakeholders.
Sarvi Ashraf, Dam Safety Program Manager gives an overview of Stillhouse Hollow Dam prior to facilitating a table-top exercise with local emergency managers, partners and stakeholders.

Story and photos by Edward Rivera
Fort Worth District Public Affairs

Throughout the summer, Fort Worth District’s Emergency Management Office team members have been visiting many lake projects hosting exercises to foster understanding and communication between our decision making partners during significant weather events.

The table-top exercises allow the District to use their Emergency Action Plans which identify risk and potential hazards, ensure public understanding via local and state emergency management entities of benefits and risk of our flood risk mitigation projects.

“The EAP is an extremely important, and formal, document we use to identify and communicate risk to our downstream emergency management partners,” said Jeff Mahaffey, deputy chief, Emergency Management. “We focus on response planning and hazard mitigation to ultimately save lives and protect property.”

In addition to exercising the individual projects EAPs, the annual meetings allow for emergency management and water supply partners, first responders and other agencies and entities affected by flooding to communicate with each other while seeing how their response plans will interact.

Bart Dearborn, manager, Sam Rayburn Lake Project Office looks over inundation maps with (left) Kimpton Cooper, district ranger, U.S. Forest Service for the Angelina and Sabine National Forests and Randy Stanton with stakeholder, Entergy Texas.
Bart Dearborn, manager, Sam Rayburn Lake Project Office looks over inundation maps with (left) Kimpton Cooper, district ranger, U.S. Forest Service for the Angelina and Sabine National Forests and Randy Stanton with stakeholder, Entergy Texas.

“The exercises also afford us the opportunity to explain U.S. Army Corps of Engineers operations during significant weather events,” said Mahaffey. “We also examine the decision making process on how we capture and retain flood waters and make project releases based on downstream channel capacity. And if signs of project distress exist, how we and our partners responds.”

The biggest take away from the exercises is ensuring the Corps educates and communicates with all affected partners and stakeholders know the how and why the multipurpose projects exist in their communities. “It is or great importance everyone involved understand the benefits, risks, and consequences of our project sites, and how to respond to an emergency situation,” said Mahaffey.

Tom Webb, superintendent, Piney Woods Hydropower Business Line Manager said, the exercise was an excellent opportunity to communicate and collaborate with all stakeholders and downstream city and county governments on the importance of having emergency action plans in place. “For some, this exercise was an eye-opener for them and they were really grateful that we had this exercise,” said Webb.

Exercises like these hosted by the District and its partners is a great opportunity for all involved to get to know each other and develop working relationships prior to any event taking place.

Ricky Raymond, operations project manager, Piney Woods Regional Office talks with Jasper, Texas Mayor Randy Sayers during a break from the exercise.
Ricky Raymond, operations project manager, Piney Woods Regional Office talks with Jasper, Texas Mayor Randy Sayers during a break from the exercise.

“The exercise presented a great opportunity to meet with local emergency managers‎ and stake holders to discuss response and needs during a flood related incident in our region,” said Bart Dearborn, Sam Rayburn Lake manager. “The recent flooding in our region over the last two years has demonstrated a need for this type of exercise and for our preparedness.”