VOLK FIELD AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Wis. --
The Air National Guard can’t prevent a natural disaster from happening, but it can prepare for one. On July 13, the 103rd Civil Engineer Squadron (CES) did just that when it became the first National Guard unit in the nation to deploy the military’s premier emergency response toolkit, the DOMOPS (Domestic Operations) package, during the PATRIOT North 18 emergency response exercise.
The scope of the 103rd’s involvement in domestic operations expanded significantly after the unit converted to a tactical airlift mission in 2016. Just over a year after the conversion, the 103rd was tasked with back-to-back disaster relief missions in response to Hurricanes Irma, Maria, and Harvey. When called upon, the 103rd responded, airlifting more than 15 tons of food, water, equipment and supplies to areas impacted by the storms. In past years, the 103rd has also provided disaster relief after snow storms and earthquakes, including the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that devastated Haiti in 2010.
“We deploy a domestic operations capability,” said Master Sgt. Daniel Reilly, 103rd Civil Engineer Squadron operations superintendent. “We’ve actually developed training from the responses that we’ve had to go to, like snowstorms and tornadoes back home, and natural disasters, like the earthquake in Haiti. We try to cater the training to what we learned there to get the domestic operations skills that we need.”
After a natural disaster strikes, the mobilization of tools, heavy equipment and structures to impacted areas could take several days, or even weeks; the DOMOPS package is a comprehensive kit that is designed to enhance preparedness for emergencies by streamlining and expediting the acquisition and mobilization process.
“The domestic operations package consists of all of our [AFSC] tools that we have," said Lt. Col. Chmielinski, 103rd Civil Engineer squadron commander. "It has electrical tools, HVAC tools, structures, heavy equipment, power production, and engineering assistance; so we have all those tools. It's about an $80,000 package."
“Our operations folks are honing their domestic operations skills,” said Chmielinski. “We received a DOMOPS package from the National Guard Bureau about four years ago and airlifted it for the first time for this exercise. It’s the first time it’s ever been done in the National Guard. It was our first objective and we successfully did it.”