NAVAL STATION MAYPORT, Fla. (Dec. 6, 2013) – Lt. Cmdr. Jon Richmond, of the Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/4th Fleet reserve unit, and Lt. Jeff Gurley, also of the 4th Fleet reserve unit, review plans during a humanitarian assistance and disaster relief exercise hosted Dec. 5 through Dec. 7 by the unit. The exercise, known as Urgent Provider, focused on building the planning skills required to assist commanders and fleet commanders responding to crises. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Erica R. Gardner/Released)
By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Erica R. Gardner, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet
NAVAL STATION MAYPORT, Fla. (NNS) -- Fifty active and Reserve members from multiple commands participated in the humanitarian assistance and disaster relief planning exercise Urgent Provider, hosted by Navy Reserve Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet from Dec. 5 through Dec. 7 here.
The Naval War College Assist and Assess Team developed and delivered the two-and-a-half day case study, which required participants to plan a joint task force commander's response to a request for assistance after a hurricane.
The type of disaster is familiar to 4th Fleet members, but the process is one that can be used by all Navy planners, whether they are on active duty or Reservists called to assist in a crisis, said Capt. Joey Dodgen, the commander of the 4th Fleet Reserve unit.
"The integration between the active component and Reserve component working as a team goes a long way in the future," Dodgen said.
Participants in the exercise included members of the Commander, U.S. Navy Southern Command/4th Fleet active and Reserve staffs as well as members of the Commander, U.S. Navy Forces Central Command/U.S. 5th Fleet Maritime Operations Center; Commander, U.S. Navy Forces 7th Fleet, Detachment Newport; Commander, Destroyer Squadron 40 Headquarters and Detachment B units; and multiple littoral combat ship units.
They were divided into four operational planning teams, known as OPTs, to work through the various phases of the planning process.
"At first, our OPT was trying to think logically instead of using the process provided for us," said Ensign Thea Spriggs, a member of the 4th Fleet Reserve unit's information technology department. "The process kept us on track and allowed us to plan with less frustration."
"If someone had asked me to create a natural disaster plan last week, I would not have been confident in my skills," Spriggs said. "Now, I feel I can create the plan with little problem."
Team building was an important part of the exercise. Some participants had completed a five-week planning course; others had little experience in the process.
Lt. Cmdr. Bill Roberts, the executive officer of the Commander, Destroyer Squadron 40 headquarters unit, said that before Urgent Provider, he didn't know about the Navy Planning Process and how useful it could be in creating a response to a crisis.
"Had you told me to plan it on my own, I probably would have winged it," he said.
As a result of the exercise, he feels confident in his abilities and even would like to take a full, five-week course in the process.
"This course ignited my interest in planning humanitarian disaster assistance," Roberts said.
Since 2008, members of the Naval War College Assist and Assess Team have supported, educated and trained every fleet headquarters on the Navy Planning Process and the other elements of the commander's decision cycle.
With their knowledge of best practices across the fleet, they are the perfect choice to prepare prospective operational planning team members to provide information swiftly and accurately to their commanders so the commanders can make informed decisions, said Capt. Marc Denno of the Naval War College.
Humanitarian assistance and disaster relief planning is becoming a significant role for Navy Reservists, and war college instructors are happy to be raising the knowledge and skill level of Reservists, he said.
"This is a very enjoyable reward for us," he told participants as the exercise concluded.
For more news from U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command & U.S. 4th Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/cusns/.