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Readiness Enabler for Operational Forces  •
MCLB Albany, Parris Island officials plan for Safe Haven

By Marti Gatlin | | May 26, 2011

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Considered “A City within a City,” Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany’s population might swell in size if Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C., recruits and staff had to flee from a hurricane and set up temporary residence here.

To plan for that possibility, officials from both installations reviewed their annual Memorandum of Agreement here, May 18-19. Nearly 50 Marines, sailors and civilian-Marines from Parris Island met with their MCLB Albany counterparts to discuss short-term and long-term actions known as Safe Haven and Continuity of Operations Plan.

A recruit training schedule for two weeks would be conducted here under the Safe Haven Plan and the COOP will be executed here and at Camp Blanding Joint Training Center, Starke, Fla., the Florida Army and Air National Guard’s training installation.

“We take this mission seriously,” said Col. Terry V. Williams, commanding officer, MCLB Albany. “We think it’s extremely important so we appreciate you coming down here and working it out. We want to get it right. We have everything here that you would have at any other base for the most part.”

Col. Brian Palmer, commanding officer, Headquarters and Services Battalion, Parris Island, thanked the base’s Marines, civilian-Marines and sailors for hosting the Parris Island group and noted he attended the meetings in 2010 for the first time.

“I completely believe Albany is going to be there for us,” he said. “This has been very, very useful.”

Palmer noted that Parris Island is an island in the Lowcountry region of South Carolina and a category 4 or 5 hurricane would literally put it under water. MCLB Albany’s inland location away from most storms that occur, resources and facilities needed to continue training are why recruits and personnel would travel here.

“If a storm comes through and it’s a category 4 or 5 and we’re not sure how much damage it’s going to cause, for the safety of the recruits we’re going to get them off the island and get them here to where it’s safe,” he added. “If it turns out Parris Island survived a storm relatively intact then we’ll come back. If it does damage the infrastructure down there we could be here for awhile like several months, and if that were to take place, then with the assistance of the logistics base we would be able to do that.”

He said the long haul for them means setting up tents and chow halls, building obstacle courses and taking future Marines from the earliest parts of recruit training all the way through graduation. At the conclusion of that they would hopefully return to a fully recovered Parris Island.

“What you all provided for us last year was wonderful and we hope for continuation of that this year,” Palmer said. “I am absolutely confident the support Albany can provide to the depot if it’s necessary is going to be more than adequate.”

Sgt. Maj. Dwayne Farr, sergeant major, Head-quarters and Services Battalion, Parris Island, echoed Palmer’s sentiments.

“The fact that Albany is opening the base and welcoming us, (we’re) going to be able to adapt and overcome anything,” he said. “You can put us in the old golf course, and I will tell you within a matter of hours you see it will be a tent city and the Marines will be more than happy. I think it will be a good experience for the Marines to be able to experience that because for years we’ve been training at Parris Island so preparing to do it otherwise I think they would do the same as we always do - adapt and overcome.”

Bob James, deputy director, Operations and Training Division, MCLB Albany, told the group he appreciated the opportunity to spend the two-day period with them.

“The coordination meeting with Parris Island was very productive,” James said. “We all have personnel turnover from year to year and the annual reviews provide a venue to get all of us on the same sheet of music.”

Parris Island and Albany officials reviewed their hurricane plans - “living documents” - at the Base Conference Center, took a windshield tour of the installation and examined some of Marine Corps Logistics Command’s warehouses where the recruits would be housed.

Ron Marcell, installation emergency manager, Camber Corporation, for MCLB Albany, who helps run the base’s emergency operations center, which he described as a “NASA control center for the base,” said Parris Island recruits and personnel as well as other military members from Florida installations have sought safe haven here from hurricanes.

“By doing this annually like we are doing now we’re sort of keeping all the plans clean, making sure they still apply even if we are in, for instance, a heightened state of security,” he said.


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