By Jay Woods The Little Rock District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recently held a table top exercise that stressed coordination, communications and integration of the Corps’ response with external emergency management agencies and stakeholders.
The 2015 McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System table top exercise was a moderator-led event designed to present realistic problems that could happen along the navigation system. The exercise was based on a past high water event that had happened on the Arkansas River. It was designed to challenge the agencies and stakeholders and caused the participants to think about a number of things that could be happening because of this event. “We are only successful as we work through these types of events based off of the strengths of the relationships and partnerships,” said Brig. Gen. David C. Hill, commander, Southwestern Division. About 80 people from several federal and state government agencies and our civilian stakeholders participated in the table top exercise. Outside agencies included the U.S. Coast Guard, National Weather Service, and the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management. “Today is really about understanding the authorities and capabilities of each of the agencies and organizations involved in the exercise and then building on the partnerships,” said Capt. Timothy J. Wendt, U.S. Coast Guard sector commander, Lower Mississippi River. One of the objectives of the exercise is to use emergency contracting and to demonstrate the use of private emergency assistance on the MKARNS with the intent of shaping the Implementation Guidance for WRRDA 14 Section 1024. This allows the Corps to accept support from private industry. “The first thing you have to do is understand the strengths and weaknesses. The strength of industry is you can do a handshake and then go do something.” Said Col. Courtney W. Paul, commander, Little Rock District. “In government for every rule there is a reason for the government doing certain things. Since we are dealing with taxpayer money there are a lot of controls to ensure there is no financial abuse.” “This was another reminder for me of the knowledge, skills and, experience in this room are incredible,” Hill said. “I am confident that we can engineer solutions to the toughest challenges on this system.” The Chief of Staff of the Army recently issued his initial marching orders. He stated his number one priority was readiness and this exercise seemed to have met his intent. “From a context of USACE today, this exercise is about readiness,” Hill said. “Readiness to our responsibilities on this system and to respond in case of an emergency and to well serve the public that we are charged to serve.”