WASHINGTON, Aug. 20, 2010 — As the U.S. defense representative’s office in Pakistan coordinates U.S. military support for the humanitarian assistance mission there, it’s getting help from a U.S. Joint Forces Command team well-versed in dealing with crises.
Twenty-eight members of the Joint Enabling Capabilities Command are on the ground in Pakistan, augmenting the defense representative’s office with critical capabilities needed to support the crisis response, explained Army Col. Carl Giles, chief of the JECC’s operations division.
The office of the defense representative is well-respected in Pakistan, operating under the command of Navy Vice Adm. Michael A. LeFever, who also commanded the disaster assistance center in Pakistan to coordinate the U.S. military response to a 2005 earthquake, Giles noted.
“He has an organization in place that can do a lot of the planning and coordination,” Giles said. “The thing that we bring to this mission is the architecture to extend his reach and scope as the mission grows in response to this disaster.”
JECC is staffed with communications, operations, planning, logistics, information management and public affairs experts – all prepared to deploy on short notice to support requirements on the ground.
“This is an important mission for us, especially because of our ability to deliver a tailored team of experts that can move quickly and responsibly to provide the skill sets that are in high demand during these types of disaster relief operations,” Navy Rear Adm. Walter E. Carter Jr., the JECC commander, said of the Pakistan support mission.
One of Joint Forces Command’s key tasks is to be the joint force provider to combatant commanders worldwide, Giles explained. So it’s the go-to command they look to when they need unique skills and capability on short notice.
“That’s where the [Joint Enabling Capabilities Command] comes in,” Giles said. “We are the [Joint Forces Command] commander’s operational arm, and we have the capability to deploy our people and our unique skill sets and capabilities to solve these emerging problems or emerging crises, in the case of Pakistan.”
The command’s four subordinate elements are no strangers to crises and contingency missions. They supported Operation Unified Response in Haiti, helping to stand up Joint Task Force Haiti to provide disaster relief and humanitarian assistance following a devastating earthquake in January.
JECC’s Joint Communications Support Element had a team on the ground in Haiti at the Port-au-Prince airport the next day, equipped with a communications package that enabled the State Department to communicate with the Haitian government, Giles said. They also were able to extend that communication back to national command authorities in Washington so they could grasp the scope of the situation.
Another team, based at the embassy, helped to establish communication and coordination between Joint Task Force Haiti staff as they arrived on the ground, the Joint Staff, U.S. Embassy officials and other organizations in the area to support incoming relief supplies.
The joint deployable team brought planners, logisticians and operators to fill critical billets in the task force headquarters as it formed. Meanwhile, the joint public affairs support element supported the public affairs mission.
This past spring, JECC was called into action again to support Operation Deepwater Horizon, the disaster relief effort following a massive oil spill along the Gulf Coast.
Not all the command’s missions revolve around humanitarian or environmental crises. The command was called on earlier this year to help fill key positions while standing up Joint Task Force 435, which manages detainee operations in Afghanistan. In November, it also helped to establish the International Security Assistance Force Joint Command, commanded by Army Lt. Gen. David M. Rodriguez, to oversee day-to-day coalition operations in Afghanistan.
Lessons learned through these and a broad range of other JECC missions give team members the adaptability that makes them invaluable in responding to crises – in Pakistan or anywhere else in the world, Giles said.
“Every disaster relief effort is different,” he said. “That is the common thing, that they are uncommon in their response.”
U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)