The U.S. military has a plan for dealing with a flu pandemic but, so far, there has been no order to implement it.
U.S. Northern Command, which has primary responsibility for the homeland security mission, developed a communications plan (COMPLAN) for responding to a pandemic in December 2007. Elements of the directive were rehearsed four months later, according to Mike Kucharek, a command spokesman.
Kucharek stressed that NORTHCOM has not been formally tasked to support the federal response to the flu outbreak. But he said that there is “significant” on-going coordination between staff officers at the command, and their counterparts at other federal agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Health and Human Services.
Kucharek did not say at what point the command might be tasked to assist in the federal response. The NORTHCOM spokesman said there are various “triggers” that would lead to implementation of the plan, while noting that none of the activation criteria have yet been met.
Under the current plan, NORTHCOM elements could provide a range of wide range of support to federal, state and local officials. While declining to discuss specifics, Mr. Kucharek said potential missions might include medical and logistical support.
Based at Fort Stewart, Georgia, the 1st BCT began a one-year rotation last fall as the “rapid reaction” force of Army North, the ground element of NORTHCOM. The assignment marked the first time that an active duty Army unit was given a dedicated assignment to the command.
While the brigade combat team has trained for various homeland security missions, there has been no change in their alert posture, according to NORTHCOM.
[FYI - I received my copy of the 40+ page plan a few days ago. We're ready whenever they say go. Our alert level has not changed. Yet. - Sarge]