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Reserve confirms commitment to preparedness

The 9th Mission Support Command led by Brigadier General Michele Compton is currently conducting a Domestic Preparedness Site Survey in the territory, according to Army Colonel Marc Wilson, who told Samoa News that BG Compton has made American Samoa a command focus area. 

He explained that the CG’s intent is to reassure the American Samoan government and the people of American Samoa that the Army Reserve is committed as a partner when it comes to disaster and emergency management response.

“The 9th MSC’s Operations Officer, COL Steve Araki directs the full spectrum planning effort for civil support and homeland defense,” Colonel Wilson told Samoa News, adding that he remains integrated and synchronized with that planning effort as the Reserve’s DCO along with his Active Component counter-part Col Lyman.

He also stated that he informs COL Araki’s team of the continued progress with civil support efforts, which enhance 9th MSC’s ability to formulate a more comprehensive operational picture.

“The Army Reserve is committed to Defense Support of Civil Authorities (DSCA) through its direct mission support to the Hawaii Defense Coordinating Officer (DCO), Col Lyman from USARPAC”.

He explained, for example, the 9th MSC was approved to establish force structure that includes him as Col Lyman’s Reserve DCO.

The 9th MSC has the only Reserve Defense Coordinating Element within the Army Reserve. Upon activation, Col Wilson's DCE integrates with COL Lyman’s DCE, which results in a more robust capability expediting the DoD’s role in support of the Primary Federal Agency and Partner (FEMA).

“The committed assurance that we in the Reserves stand by our neighbors is evident in the stationing of our soldiers,” Col Wilson said, noting he has an Operations NCO, SFC Lavatai and MAJ Ah Hing Faaiuaso, who are assigned and living in American Samoa.

Ah Hing Faaiuaso — who’s also a pharmacist at LBJ — serves in the Army Reserve (with the 9th MSC) as the Emergency Preparedness Liaison Office (EPLO).

This is a vital role in DSCA and upon activation; she becomes the Army’s Subject Matter Expert (SME) on resource capability.

Col Wilson noted that having Evelyn live and work in the territory serves as a tremendous advantage.

He explained that his intent to further enhance Col Araki's comprehensive mission objectives not only share linkage with BG Compton's strategic vision for DSCA but reinforces the 9th MSC's commitment to the Army Reserve 2020 Vision. 

Col Wilson has coordinated with the Civil Affairs BDE within the 9th MSC to join him in conducting a Domestic Preparedness Site Survey, a core competency for them.

He said LTC Westlake and MAJ Calad who also serve in the Army Reserve are conducting this survey. 

Col Wilson said LTC Westlake has served with the Army Reserve for over three decades, and she was the first junior enlisted female to serve in the famed 100th BN. A veteran of Iraq, she also brings real-world experience in disaster assessment to include the American Samoa-post Hurricane Val and East Timor as part of INTERFET (International Forces East Timor). MAJ Calad has over two decades of military experience serving in both the Hawaii National Guard and the Army Reserves and has been deployed twice to Iraq. 

Col Wilson said he is able to capitalize upon their natural disaster response experience and their Theater Security Cooperation experience as they have participated in multiple exercises in the Pacific area of responsibility, honing their skills in inter-service, inter-government, and inter-agency coordination.