USA — Face of Defense: NCO Leads Guard Response Team

FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. — The Mis­souri Army Nation­al Guard’s Sgt. Maj. Kevin E. Smith is the net­work oper­a­tions man­ag­er and non­com­mis­sioned officer–in-charge of the Nation­al Guard’s newest Domes­tic All-Haz­ards Response Team.

Army Sgt. Maj. Kevin E. Smith is the net­work oper­a­tions sergeant as well as the non­com­mis­sioned offi­cer-in-charge of the Nation­al Guard’s Domes­tic All-Haz­ards Response Team-West. Smith is assigned to the 35th Infantry Divi­sion, Mis­souri Army Guard.
Source: U.S. Air Force pho­to by Mas­ter Sgt. Mike R. Smith, Nation­al Guard Bureau
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With 31 years of ser­vice, Smith knows a thing or two about the Guard’s dis­as­ter response capa­bil­i­ties. From dead­ly heat waves, floods and hur­ri­canes – includ­ing Hur­ri­cane Kat­ri­na – Smith’s ser­vice with the 35th Infantry Divi­sion has mobi­lized him on state active duty many times to sup­port his gov­er­nor and gov­er­nors of oth­er states.

“The divi­sion was actu­al­ly the Nation­al Guard’s C2 [com­mand and con­trol] part of Hur­ri­cane Kat­ri­na [for Louisiana],” Smith said. “We had a work cell at Bell Chas­se [Naval Air Sta­tion].”

Smith and oth­ers from the 35th divi­sion deployed here last week to par­tic­i­pate in an exer­cise that tests the DART, which can be request­ed by state gov­er­nors who need resources to assist civil­ian respon­ders dur­ing a major dis­as­ter.

The 35th division’s DART-West is one of only two DARTs that encom­pass the Guard’s major dis­as­ter coor­di­na­tion for the nation. The Penn­syl­va­nia Guard’s 28th Infantry Divi­sion runs DART-East.

DARTs pro­vide dis­as­ter response assis­tance at a state governor’s request when the state’s inter­nal assets are exhaust­ed or unavail­able, Smith explained. DARTs also can pro­vide assets, he added, through hur­ri­cane matri­ces and emer­gency man­age­ment assis­tance com­pact agree­ments.

“We find those assets,” he said, explain­ing that the DART estab­lish­es force pack­ages that mobi­lize and deploy to a dis­as­ter area to meet the iden­ti­fied capa­bil­i­ty gaps.

Those pack­ages, Smith said, can pro­vide Army and Air Guard capa­bil­i­ties, includ­ing com­mand and con­trol, spe­cial response teams, avi­a­tion, mil­i­tary police, engi­neer, trans­porta­tion, med­ical, chem­i­cal and com­mu­ni­ca­tions, among oth­ers.

Army offi­cials point­ed out why infantry divi­sions are qual­i­fied to run DART in the service’s 2010 Pos­ture State­ment: “The DART con­cept uti­lizes the unique capa­bil­i­ties of a divi­sion head­quar­ters for plan­ning and coor­di­nat­ing the employ­ment of units.”

Hav­ing deployed twice with the 35th division’s head­quar­ters, Smith pos­sess­es the req­ui­site qual­i­ties and expe­ri­ence need­ed for a DART.

He deployed to Multi­na­tion­al Divi­sion North in Bosnia as an oper­a­tions NCO for the com­mu­ni­ca­tions office there. He also deployed to Camp Bond­steel, the main Army base in Koso­vo, and served as a first sergeant for mil­i­tary intel­li­gence.

DART mem­bers also use their skills and expe­ri­ences from their civil­ian occu­pa­tions, said Smith, who employs his skill as a com­mer­cial telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions spe­cial­ist in inter­na­tion­al cir­cuits and lines.

In his DART role, Smith gets com­mu­ni­ca­tions sys­tems up and work­ing when the team’s coor­di­na­tion cell is acti­vat­ed. In the exer­cise, the DART sim­u­lat­ed its acti­va­tion for a series of domes­tic dis­as­ter sce­nar­ios, includ­ing a wild­fire, flood, hur­ri­cane, earth­quake and ter­ror­ism.

If a DART is ever acti­vat­ed to estab­lish real-world force pack­ages, Smith said, then “some­thing very bad has hap­pened” to the nation.

“We hope we nev­er have to use the DART,” he said. “I hope my job is always easy … I nev­er want to go to a big dis­as­ter.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)