Air National Guard's Rapid Augmentation Team ready to weather the storms

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Jessica Condit
  • 189th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
In the state of Arkansas, the weather is sometimes unpredictable. A warm, sunny day in October could turn into a dangerous hail storm at the drop of a hat. While the weather is uncontrollable and predominantly unpredictable, it does not stop the 189th Airlift Wing's Rapid Augmentation Team, or R.A.T., from being prepared to assist and rescue stranded Arkansans during some of the state's most stressful and trying times.

The R.A.T. provides a highly trained and skilled group of individuals from different units at the 189th AS and deploys them during state emergencies to seek out individuals in need of assistance and to resolve situations that arise due to natural or manmade disasters. While the Airmen are given this unique and heavy responsibility, they are provided with all the tools and training necessary to ensure they are more than capable of fulfilling the state active duty mission.

"We have responded to more than 16 missions which include tornadoes, floods and winter weather," said Tech. Sgt. Ashley Brodnax, a 189th Civil Engineer Squadron emergency manager. "We train more than 150 volunteers on the R.A.T. in areas such as chainsaw safety, self-aid buddy care and GPS and radio training just to start."

The ability to support domestic operations is a key component for the National Guard. National Guard members are the first in line of defense for humanitarian operations in the state they represent. Activated by the governor of the state, Army and National Guard units in cooperation with civilian and federal emergency services provide rescue and deliver much needed assistance during the aftermath of a natural disaster.

"I would say our biggest advantage is our manpower and equipment," Brodnax said. "We continuously strive to be the state's premier domestic operations response force by providing an organized, agile and capable rapid response force to local, state and federal authorities in support of domestic operations."

According to a recent after action report, one responder reported that the operation was truly a sate-wide effort, bringing both Air National Guard units along with the Arkansas Army National Guard units into the one team, one fight concept.

Providing assistance is only one of the many skills that the team provides. They also ensure key community members and leaders are updated on the status of events by using the mobile emergency operations center. The MEOC provides a continual communication link between the on-scene commanders or emergency responders and state and local leaders or other responders. Through satellite systems, the MEOC is able to communicate without the assistance of landlines and other communication systems that might be inoperable after a natural disaster.