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News | Dec. 14, 2018

DCRF action officers train for joint operations center success

By Air Force Lt. Col. Karen Roganov Joint Task Force Civil Support

A trained DCRF is a ready DCRF might be an appropriate bumper sticker.

Almost 40 members of the Defense Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) Response Force (DCRF) gathered here to train as action officers within the joint operations center (JOC), Dec. 11-13.

Their common goal is defense support of civil authorities for a domestic CBRN catastrophic incident.

“We are empowering our JOC officers, noncommissioned officers and liaison officers to learn the art and science of employing an operations center, better supporting their commander, and setting the conditions for success during response exercises and operations,” said Army Capt. Richard Pfrogner, planner in the JTF-CS Operations Directorate and an instructor for the course. “We hope we are never called up, but if we are, we are training to meet the needs of our nation.”

The 5,200 DCRF members are from all services, mostly Army, who are at based at 30 installations throughout the U.S. The DCRF members assist with collaborative response capabilities between local, state, tribal and federal agencies. They are organized into four task forces: operations, aviation, logistics and medical. Members provide immediate assistance through key lifesaving operations to include casualty search and rescue, patient decontamination, emergency medical assistance, and air and ground evacuation in the event of a catastrophic response, he explained.

During a response, the joint operations center is the hub of activity orchestrating mission assignment, or work order, requests of a supported lead federal agency, such as FEMA, to help reduce CBRN incident effects.

“We aim to have JOC members who are able to visualize actions from the Common Operating Picture, analyze and assess available information, direct current operations and review and disseminate information within the JOC,” said Pfrogner.

The training kicked off with mentorship and training instruction by JTF-CS Commander Army Maj. Gen. William “Bill” Hall.

During a discussion on responsibilities and authorities, he explained that first reports of disaster response activities “are usually wrong because in fast-moving situations, it takes an enormous amount of skill and patience to sort through and find out what’s really going on.”

Hall explained that practicing a lot, such as with military exercises and in-garrison collaboration, helps with decision making and conducting operations, “so the first time you do it, it’s not the first time you do it.”

“How do you make a decision when you are not the expert in that area?” said Air Force Maj. Ricardo DeJesus, health physicist consultant for the Air Force Radiological Assessment Team, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.

During the dialogue, Hall discussed the importance of developing a sixth sense and “tempering that decision with judgement and experience.”

“The general said you also have to trust your people,” DeJesus explained.

Those attending also learned about how JTF-CS provides DCRF command and control and what happens during the first 48 hours after notification to respond.

“By the end of day two, our main command post is fully operational,” said Army Lt. Col Lee Breard, Chief of Current Operations, JTF-CS Operations Directorate.

The course had a desired end state especially preparing the DCRF for Exercise Sudden Response, Jan. 24-30, 2019, and Exercise Vibrant Response, April 29 to May 6, 2019.

“Our JOC action officers are able to understand what is going on, what is likely to occur, what is needed, what must be done, and then have the talent, ingenuity, and initiative to do what is necessary during response operations,” Breard said.