FORT INDIANTOWN GAP, Pennsylvania –
In keeping with the efforts to strengthen preparedness capabilities, the Continuity of Operations planners of Defense Logistics Agency Distribution recently took the Emergency Relocation Group to an alternate work site. Federal Continuity Directive 1, dated October 26, 2012, governs the COOP program, and training visits to alternate work sites are one of its annual requirements. It states there are four pillars of continuity capabilities: leadership, staff, communication and facilities.
Government agencies are required to have these sites in order to maintain operations during a continuity event. A continuity event can be anything from a fire that destroys part of a building, to a natural disaster, or the threat or occurrence of a terrorist attack. Any event that makes it impossible for employees to work in their regular facilities could result in the activation of the COOP plan.
DLA Distribution has three alternate work sites. Locally, there is some capacity at Naval Support Activity, Mechanicsburg, Pa, with a building modified so that DLA Distribution Expeditionary Expandable Wall Command Center can be linked by fiber-optic cable to the DLA network, allowing approximately 20 personnel to work effectively. In addition, Building 306, DLA Land and Maritime, in Columbus, Ohio, is the second alternate work site. Building 306 has room for hundreds of employees and connecting to the DLA network is as easy as plugging in a laptop. All support services such as food, medical, lodging, and fitness that would be needed for the Emergency Relocation Group is available either on post or in the local area. It is a six-hour drive from New Cumberland, so it is most likely to be used in a regional contingency that denies the use of all local facilities.
For this exercise, the scenario described a strong earthquake jolting the region, causing minor exterior damage to the DLA Distribution Headquarters building. The building was evacuated until engineers could determine structural integrity. Army Brig. Gen. John S. Laskodi invoked the COOP plan and the Emergency Relocation Group, made up of the Command Group and 20 Distribution employees from six staff directorates, traveled by GOVs and POVs to the tertiary alternate work site at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pa.
This COOPEX to the Fort Indiantown Gap site gave ERG personnel familiarity with procedures, travel routes, and facility and communications capabilities so that they are ready to maintain DLA Distribution’s Mission Essential Functions during an actual continuity event. This year marked substantial improvement in communications capabilities, with much faster connection speed to the DLA network and the ability to print locally. The highlight of this year’s COOPEX was made possible by the J6 enterprise personnel working with the PA National Guard Joint Force Headquarters J6. Laskodi and his staff were not only able to use the Emergency Operations Center for an unclassified VTC with his commanders from DLA Distribution Bahrain, Sigonella, Europe, and Susquehanna but he also participated in an SVTC with the DLA Director. Later, he met with The Adjutant General of the PA National Guard to discuss training opportunities of mutual benefit to both commands.
According to Scott Rosbaugh, Director, Office of Future Plans, DLA Distribution, “When all of the Master Scenario Event List injects were accomplished at the end of the first day, Brig. Gen. Laskodi called for ENDEX. The COOP coordinator is now collecting after-action comments from all participants for the Corrective Action Program in order to document, prioritize, and resource continuity gaps identified by the exercise.”