Born out of necessity after significant coordination and communication issues during response and recovery efforts during Hurricane Katrina (2005), the BIA, the Indian Health Service (IHS), and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) formed the Tribal Assistance Coordination Group (TAC-G). Its initial focus was to help insure close and consistent coordination and communication between these three critical partners assisting Tribes impacted by emergencies and disasters.
Monthly meetings began between BIA, IHS, and FEMA to discuss strategies, authorities and gaps. These meetings quickly identified other key partners that enhanced coordination and brought additional resources and capabilities to support Tribal response efforts. This initial phase was capped by the first annual national TAC-G workshop conducted in Tucson, AZ in 2006.
The next few years saw new partner participation grow significantly and included the first TAC-G deployment during the 2007 Southern California Wildfires. The addition of important partners, including the United States Army Corps of Engineers (UASCE), United State Department of Agriculture (USDA), The Administration for Children and Families (ACF), as well as participation from representatives from Tribal emergency management programs began an exponential growth, nationwide. Incident coordination expanded significantly, and coordination calls for events ranging from Great Plains spring flooding, severe ice and snowstorms, and hurricanes including Ike and Gustav in 2008.
The growth of participation fostered greatly enhanced coordination and communication across the spectrum of emergency management partners including some state, county, and local governments that in the past had not been fully engaged in assisting tribal disaster response. The visibility of the TAC-G was now more fully realized and after it was asked to provide the first ever emergency management track at the National Native American Law Enforcement Association (NNALEA) Conference in 2009.
In 2012, the TAC-G was tasked to lead the Tribal sub-committee during the revision of the National Response Framework (NRF). This effort resulted in several key changes to Emergency Support Function #15 including the development of a new Tribal Coordination Support Annex (not yet released). The revision resulted in the NRF identifying the TAC-G as a “unique coordinating structure.” This recognition was critical to the validation of the overall concept and provided much needed increased visibility for tribal emergency management overall.
The TAC-G continues to grow and evolve resulting in new partners, increased advocacy and awareness and a virtual one stop shop for tribal emergency management programs. Special attention was given to the All-Hazards Emergency Response Operations (A-HERO) capabilities of the TAC-G and its partners, in contrast to the public affairs responsibilities of ESF-15.