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News | Dec. 3, 2018

CBRN Response Enterprise Readies for 2019 Exercise Year, Mission

By Air Force Lt. Col. Karen Roganov, Director, JTF-CS Public Affairs Joint Task Force Civil Support

More than 360 active and reserve Army, Navy, and Air Force members and DoD civilians from almost 100 different units nationwide representing the DoD Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Enterprise (CRE) met for a training conference at Camp Atterbury Ind., Nov. 30 to Dec. 2, 2018 to plan for Exercise Guardian Response 2019 (GR-19).

“Thank you for all you are doing to make sure your teams are ready to execute life-saving missions in a chaotic environment,” said Army Brig. Gen. Rod Faulk, commander, Atlantic Training Division, 84th Training Command, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst (JBMDL), N.J., speaking about the crisis response mission. “Our focus is ensuring this is a great exercise and the units participating are prepared, so challenge us to help you so you are ready.”

Participants included the Defense CBRN Response Force (DCRF), the Command and Control (C2) elements Army Reserve CRE Alpha and National Guard CRE Bravo (C2CRE-A/C2CRE-B) and others who are preparing for GR-19, a brigade-level and below field training exercise, scheduled to take place at Camp Atterbury and Muscatatuck Urban Training Center (MUTC) Ind., April 22 to May 22.

A 10-member team of Joint Task Force Civil Support (JTF-CS) subject-matter experts from Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., assisted with the planning and met with task force commanders and other representatives to discuss movement of the forces to the exercise, medical operations, logistical considerations, communication capabilities, aeromedical evacuation, media engagement and other topics.

“We are continuing to build habitual relationships with the DCRF, which are crucial in the event of a catastrophic nuclear crisis that would be leveraged during a response to help our nation,” said Army Lt. Col. Matthew Camel, CBRN planner, JTF-CS. “We need to continue to institutionalize Defense Support of Civil Authorities (DSCA) roles and responsibilities across the DoD.”

Camel explained DSCA is a domestic mission new to most military units who normally support global expeditionary operations. DSCA requires learning how to support civilian first-responders operating in the United States and its territories.

Exercise GR-19 is designed to train and validate DoD CBRN CRE units (DCRF, C2CRE-A/B) for their mission assumption on June 1, 2019. The DCRF’s mission in the event of a catastrophic CBRN incident is to assist local, state, federal and tribal partners in saving lives, preventing further injury, and providing critical support to enable community recovery when conducting DSCA response operations.

“There is a massive amount of communication and integration that needs to happen….a lot of these units don’t typically work together,” said Army Col. Wai-Kin Tong, chief of training, 78th Training Division, JBMDL.

When called on, CRE responders would provide immediate support through key lifesaving operations to include casualty search and rescue, patient decontamination, and emergency medical assistance to include air and ground evacuation.

Army Maj. Ryan Dunbar, engineering officer, 36th Engineering Brigade, Fort Hood, Texas, who was representing Task Force Operations, relayed his sentiments about the stateside DSCA mission in contrast to performing Army missions abroad.

“The odds are and history shows that we may not get called upon for a catastrophic CBRN response. Still, there are DSCA activities like hurricanes or flooding and we may get called up for that,” he said. “Now I may directly get a chance to affect things for good at home.”

Participants worked through issues in small-group breakout sessions and came together on the last day to brief the results of their interactions to the other participants.

“Everybody here is very passionate about succeeding at their mission,” said Tong. “The questions they bring up demonstrate this.”