Alabama Commanders Summit emphasizes preparedness|
by Christopher Kratzer
Air University Public Affairs
4/1/2011 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- Key leaders of Alabama military and civil operations met for the seventh Alabama Commanders Summit this week. The event, held at Maxwell AFB, sought to promote civil and military cooperation during state and regional disasters.
Spanning three days, the summit featured presentations by key state and military officials on topics ranging from Gulf oil spill lessons and anti-terrorism to worldwide pandemics and their possible ramifications at the state level. The event also included a keynote address from Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley.
Teri Baker, chief of 42nd Air Base Wing plans and programs, who coordinated the event, said the feedback has been very good, with attendees touting the event as extremely effective and an excellent planning tool.
Past disasters have shown the importance of events like this and the critical advantage they provide in disaster relief, she said.
"The disasters over the past several years have shown not only state but the military have to work together with federal agencies, tribal nations and any other agency that is involved with mass response," Ms. Baker said.
The summit doesn't just educate organizations on disaster relief. It also allows members to solve problems that are involved in coordinating so many varied agencies.
"In every case, the number-one problem that is stated is communication," Ms. Baker said. "If we can communicate and learn to know each agency here, who our counterparts are and what their roles and responsibilities are, we can respond quickly and effectively during a disaster."
Air University Commander Gen. Allen Peck and 42nd Air Base Wing Commander Col. Brian Killough attended the event. Colonel Killough, the representative for the 42nd Air Base Wing at the summit, also emphasized the importance of communication.
"In every case, communication is extremely important," Colonel Killough said. "Anytime a disaster demands a large scale response, it is critical we learn to coordinate at the local, state and federal levels."
In his keynote address, Governor Bentley thanked all the members of the summit for their hard work for the state of Alabama.
"Thank you all for the help you've given the state of Alabama and all that you do for its citizens," Governor Bentley said. "I appreciate the cooperation that we have at the state and federal levels when it comes to helping its citizens. We are citizens of Alabama but we are all citizens of the United States."
The address ended with Governor Bentley offering support to all agencies involved. This is the third time Maxwell-Gunter has hosted the event. Alabama is the first state to host an event of this nature, and each summit has featured the sitting governor.