In face of the growing missile threat against Israel, the IDF Home Front Command and the US National Guard have decided to exchange liaisons to enable a steady exchange of information on civil defense, The Jerusalem Post has learned.
The decision to send a liaison to the US from the Home Front Command was approved by the General Staff and OC Home Front Command Maj.-Gen. Yair Golan several weeks ago. The officer, who will hold the rank of lieutenant-colonel, will be stationed in Washington and serve as a permanent liaison to the National Guard, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the US Northern Command (NORTHCOM), the military command responsible for protecting the American homeland and supporting local, state and federal authorities.
Sources in the Home Front Command said on Sunday that the officer, who will also represent the Defense Ministry's National Emergency Management Authority, would be sent to the US in the coming weeks.
The National Guard liaison, an officer with the rank of major, was stationed at Home Front Command headquarters near Ramle two months ago. IDF sources said he would remain in Israel for another month and then return to the US, where the National Guard will decide if it plans to station a permanent liaison here, or make do with short, periodic visits.
The idea to exchange the liaisons came up in 2008, during a visit here by a top National Guard officer. Several months later, Golan and Maj. Chezy Deutsch, director of international relations at the Home Front Command, traveled to the US and visited NORTHCOM, FEMA and the National Guard and decided that it was in the IDF's interest to send a liaison.
According to an Home Front Command officer, the Israeli liaison will have a permanent presence in the National Guard headquarters and deploy with the guard throughout the US to observe and study command-and-control mechanisms, as well as American doctrine.
The IDF already has liaison officers to the US Army, Marines, Air Force and Navy.
"He will go to training exercises, conferences and if needed will deploy with the National Guard to emergency situations," the officer explained.
Home Front Command-National Guard relations were bolstered during Operation Cast Lead earlier this year, when a delegation from the US European Command (EUCOM) and National Guard came to Israel to observe Home Front Command operations. The delegation visited Ashdod, Ashkelon and Sderot, as well as command centers throughout the country.
Next month, the Home Front Command will host a conference called IPRED - International Preparedness and Response to Emergencies and Disasters - in Tel Aviv that will be attended by more than 100 foreign nationals.
The goal of the conference is to facilitate the exchange of ideas, experiences and lessons learned about preparedness and response to emergencies and disasters.
The conference will focus on several topics, including preparedness and response to emergencies and disasters; mass casualty events; public behavior, risk communication and mental health during and following emergencies; and the role international and national agencies play in disaster medicine.â€¢