Israel, National Guard partner to gain knowledge, share experiences

Written by  //  November 18, 2011  //  Feature Stories, News

STARKE, Fla. (Nov. 18, 2011) – Members of the Israeli Home Front Command and the Israel National Emergency Management Authority visited Camp Blanding Joint Training Center November 14-16 to participate in Shared Future, a joint exercise focused on mutual cooperation between the two countries to improve domestic response capabilities.

Lt. Col. Michael Ladd, commander of the Florida National Guard's 44th Weapons of Mass Destruction - Civil Support Team, briefs visitors from the Israeli Home Front Command and Israeli National Emergency Management Authority during a visit to Camp Blanding Joint Training Center, Nov. 15, as part of Shared Focus 2011.

The Israeli Home Front Command is the country’s military branch responsible for emergency operations which shares the U.S. National Guard’s mission of saving lives and mitigating damage. It is this common mission that brings the two nations together to share experiences and learn from each other.

During the exercise, participants exchanged ideas and best practices for tactics, techniques and procedures for homeland domestic emergency response.

The exercise took place at Camp Blanding Joint Training Center where National Guardsmen from Florida and Georgia participated in a concurrent Homeland Response Force exercise. The Israeli visitors had the opportunity to observe the Guardsmen conducting urban search and rescue operations, medical triage and chemical, biological, radiological and high-yield explosives decontamination training.

The participants also discussed the ways the countries could provide assistance to each other in the case of an overwhelming disaster. Recently, Israel provided assistance to Haiti after the devastating earthquake in January of 2010. The countries are looking at what would need to be done to allow for the U.S. to provide assistance to Israel or Israel to provide assistance to the U.S. if either country were to be overwhelmed by a disaster.

“We’re talking about policies,” said Col. Heinrich Reyes, the National Guard Bureau’s Homeland Response Force Implementation Team Chief. “We’re also learning a lot about their tactics and capabilities.”

The Israeli partners possess invaluable knowledge gained through real world crises. Incorporating these lessons learned into existing plans and procedures was one of the goals of the exercise.

The experience was beneficial for both countries. “We’ve been able to share our operational experience and learn from the National Guard experiences,” said Col. Yoram Laredo, the Central District Commander of the Israeli Home Front Command. “The Home Front Command and the National Guard have the same goals – to assist civilians and save lives – there’s a lot of resemblance between the two organizations.”

The ongoing partnership between the two countries helps to promote the development of a long-term, mutually beneficial relationship that could positively impact the way both nations respond to disasters.