SAN DIEGO, Calif. – During a recent air show at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego, hundreds of visitors toured one of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Emergency Command and Control Vehicles, or ECCV’s.
The vehicle, one of just 15 in the Corps’ inventory, deploys in the event of manmade and natural disasters. This particular ECCV is one of only two located on the West Coast.
A two-man team drives the vehicle to the needed location during an emergency deployment, where it can then be set up in 15 minutes and allows workspace for up to 11 users simultaneously. Together, the team and the equipment, make up what is known as a Deployable Tactical Operations System, or DTOS.
During the Sept. 25 air show, the vehicle sat at the center of the airfield tarmac, shadowed only by the likes of other nearby military aircraft, like a KC-130J Hercules Tanker – an aircraft that allows for in-flight refueling, and an MV-22 Osprey – a multi-mission, tiltrotor military aircraft.
The ideal location brought in additional visitors to the Corps’ vehicle and recruitment booth, including those watching the nearby precision landings of the U.S. Army Golden Knights parachute team. Also parked nearby were a B-52H Stratofortress and C-5M Super Galaxy, drawing in long lines of attendees waiting to get a glimpse inside the two massive aircraft.
CORPS OF ENGINEERS RECRUITMENT EFFORTS
In addition to providing tours of the ECCV, several members of the Corps’ Los Angeles team spoke with air show attendees about the mission and careers with the Corps. Those representing the LA District were Capt. Donnell Smith, project engineer with the LA District’s San Diego Resident Office; Baron Arakawa, a civil engineer with the Emergency Operations Branch; Sergio Valdovinos, engineering equipment operator leader with the LA District’s Operations Branch, as well as Dena O’Dell, John Reese and Stephen Baack with the LA District’s Public Affairs office.
Many of the visitors to the Corps’ booth and ECCV included those who previously served in the Army or Army engineer fields; high school and college students interested in engineering as a career; and parents and small children, who picked up give-away bags filled with fun Safety goodies and Bobber the Water Safety Dog activity books.
A few guests recovered from the hot, sunny day by spending a few minutes inside the ECCV, listening to the team explain the many functions of the vehicle and how the Corps uses it during emergencies.
The purpose of bringing the emergency vehicle to the air show was to represent “the civilian side of the Army, specifically the emergency management aspect and our role in the federal response to disasters, but overall showcasing the variety of the Corps of Engineers’ work to the general public,” Arakawa explained.
One example Arakawa referenced of how the vehicle support disasters in California was during the Santa Barbara Debris Mission in January 2018. The debris slide took the lives of 23 people in the Montecito area. The Corps’ mission was to clear out 11 of the county’s debris basins and channels.
The vehicle served as the Corps’ command center during the mission, he said.
The DTOS team provides critical communications in the event of significant man-made or natural disasters in the U.S., the District of Columbia, and the territories of the U.S.
ECCV drivers are often tasked to deploy to another district to support emergency operations. Valdovinos was deployed to Puerto Rico in 2017 to support the DTOS mission following Hurricane Maria.
“There have been multiple occasions where our DTOS team was placed on alert to be prepared to deploy if needed following a disaster that occurred in various regions of the country,” Arakawa said. “There also have been occasions where our ECCV was driven out of state to the areas of responsibility of other Corps of Engineers’ districts, to be staged near a location where a hurricane was expected to hit, in anticipation that a DTOS would be needed in the impacted areas immediately.”
Fortunately, on those deployments, the impacts of the hurricanes weren’t as severe as anticipated, so the DTOS wasn’t used.
AIR SHOW RETURNS AFTER COVID-19 HIATUS
This was the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic that the air show returned to the San Diego area. It is deemed one of the military’s biggest recruitment events, bringing in about 500,000 visitors over a three-day period. In addition to numerous military static displays and recruitment booths, a featured highlight of the air show was an air performance by the U.S. Navy Blue Angels.