Missile defense prep, potential furlough focus of CIE

| February 1, 2018 | 0 Comments

Col. Stephen E. Dawson, commander, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii, addresses missile defense preparedness during the Community Information Exchange, Jan. 31, 2018. (Photo by Karen A. Iwamoto, Oahu Publications)

Karen A. Iwamoto
Staff Writer

SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — “Repeat after me. Get inside. Stay inside. Stay tuned.”

That was the message from Col. Stephen E. Dawson, commander of U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii, during a missile defense preparedness briefing at this month’s Community Information Exchange, Jan. 31, at the Nehelani.

While almost a month has passed since a false missile alert sent to cellphones across the state of Hawaii on Jan. 13, preparedness continues to be a top priority for the Army.

Courtesy of Centers for Disease Control

Dawson’s briefing was aimed at making sure the community knows what to do in the event of a real missile threat and dispelling misconceptions.

He reassured those in attendance that his intent was not to cause undue alarm or panic.

“If there is a missile inbound to the Hawaiian Islands, the U.S. Pacific Command will be the first to know,” he said. “They have the capability to detect a missile launch … and I can assure you … we have the ability to defend against a missile attack.”

However, he acknowledged that there are gaps in the system. There are several state siren warning systems located on USAG-HI properties that do not currently work. He said the garrison is making it a priority to get those sirens up and running.

In the meantime, the garrison relies on its Giant Voice broadcast capabilities to broadcast the sirens. Because the Giant Voice broadcasts may not reach all areas of the garrison, he encourages Soldiers and their families to sign up for the Army’s AtHoc Mass Warning Notification system (see story on side).

As far as what to do during an actual missile attack, his message boiled down to three main points:

Get inside
Hawaii does not have designated fallout shelters or bunkers. Upon receiving notification of an imminent attack or missile threat, individuals and families should seek immediate shelter.
If they are at home, they should remain in their homes, away from windows and turn off their air conditioning and fans. If they are on the road, they should pull over at the nearest building or structure and seek shelter inside.
Individuals and families have approximately 12-15 minutes from the airing of the nuclear attack sirens to take shelter.

Stay inside
Once sheltered, individuals and families should be prepared to stay in place until they are notified that it is safe to leave. It is recommended that homes be stocked with up to 14 days worth of provisions. This includes food, water, prescription medication and other necessities.

Stay tuned
Keep televisions and radios close by, as emergency information and updates will be broadcast over them.

Hawaii public schools have a shelter in place plan should an attack occur during school hours. Parents should not attempt to pick their children up, but should shelter in place where they are until instructed otherwise by emergency management officials.

Private schools have similar plans. Parents should contact their children’s private schools for more information.

For more tips on what to do during a real missile attack, visit ready.gov/nuclear-blast or dod.hawaii.gov/hema/.

To stay up-to-date on developing news and emergency situations, Dawson encourages the community to follow USAG-HI on Facebook for timely updates, to bookmark the USAG-HI website at https://www.garrison.hawaii.mil and to download the Army’s At-Hoc emergency notification system.

The community is also invited to attend USAG-HI’s monthly Community Information Exchange, or CIE, held at 9 a.m. the last Wednesday of the month at the Nehelani on Schofield Barracks. It is open to the community and serves as a way for community members to stay on top of issues affecting the garrison and have their questions answered by garrison and community leaders.

The next CIE is scheduled for Feb. 28.

A video recording of Wednesday’s CIE, which includes all of the information contained within this article and more, can be viewed on the USAG-HI Facebook page at http://facebook.com/usaghawaii.

Sign Up for AtHoc
All active duty service members should sign up for the AtHoc Mass Warning Emergency Notification System. Soldiers, civilian employees and contractors who have Common Access Cards (CACs) may do this by logging on to their government computers and clicking on the purple AtHoc icon.

From there, they may follow a series of steps to activate the system. They should choose to have notifications sent to their home landlines and cellphones in addition to popup alerts on their government computers. Otherwise, they will not receive notifications while they are away from their workstations or off duty.

Under the current AtHoc system, they may sign up one non-CAC-holding family member for alerts. An option to add more family members is in the works.

The AtHoc system is also available as an app for iOS and Android smartphones. When downloading the app, make sure you are selecting the correct installation – USAG-Hawaii. Users must have an active email set up in the USAG-HI AtHoc Mass Warning and Notification system before downloading and installing the app.

When users change locations they should remember to update their information in the AtHoc system.

The AtHoc system alerts users to hazards and emergencies on and surrounding USAG-HI installations. These may include hurricane and tsunami warnings, electrical outages, road closures and bomb threats.

While Army in Hawaii expects 100 percent of its Soldiers to be enrolled in the system, it is currently less than halfway to that goal, although the numbers are climbing.

The false missile alert on Jan. 13 has made preparedness more important than ever and signing up for AtHoc not only ensures that Soldiers and their families are kept informed, it also helps commanders plan for and improve their preparedness and response capabilities.

If you have questions about enrolling in the AtHoc system, contact your unit’s AtHoc end user manager.

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