Fort Eustis, Va., Dec. 21, 2018 —
Preparing for movement to a location for emergency events requires practice and planned structure, according to JTF-CS planners.
U.S. military members and DoD civilians of Joint Task Force Civil Support (JTF-CS) demonstrated the ability to conduct a rapid mobility loadout of crisis response vehicles in a Chinook CH-47F helicopter at Felker Army Airfield today.
“JTF-CS strives to be faster, lighter, and more interoperable,” said Kevin Woodrum, a joint exercise planner in the JTF-CS Operations Directorate. “This particular concept of flying people and equipment to a point of need was based on quickly overcoming the conditions of vehicle traffic and accident logjams experienced with the standard ground transportation routes.”
The people and equipment might go directly to a point of need or to an airfield to load resources onto larger fixed-wing aircraft for further transportation to the crisis.
This loadout exercise scenario was assisted by the 11th Theater Aviation Command (TAC), U.S. Army General Support Aviation Battalion (5-159th), Army aviation coordination team based at Fort Eustis who flew the 14 participants, a utility vehicle and a 10-passenger van around the Hampton Roads area in the CH-47F.
JTF-CS is a unit that prepares for high intensity command and control of Defense Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Response Forces (DCRF) within the United States who are ready to respond to a domestic all hazards catastrophic event quickly, said Woodrum.
“Today the team proved the ability for a rapid deployment using alternate modes of travel, such as air,” said Woodrum. “We must consider all possibilities of travel assistance, such as airlift, ship-to-shore or rail, in support of civil authorities.”
JTF-CS and the DCRF members assist with collaborative response capabilities between local, state, tribal and federal agencies. Members provide immediate assistance to a lead federal agency, like FEMA, 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.
This particular loadout concept was based on what elite military response forces do to get to a need quickly and with a sense of urgency, said Woodrum. Such rapid deployment forces are usually trained at a higher intensity than the rest of their country's military because of their particular mission.
“With JTF-CS having the need for a speedy response, this concept of flying with ultra-light tactical mobility (UTM) to avoid ground challenges aligned well with our concept,” he said.
These UTM platforms are smaller than the Army’s standard light tactical vehicle fleet and are therefore informally referred to as ultra-light tactical mobility (UTM).
JTF-CS owns and operates a fleet of wheeled support vehicles, divided into three categories: heavy, medium, and light urban vehicles (LUV). In April 2014 Army Forces Command (FORSCOM) initiated a plan to develop established sets of UTM vehicles for airborne forces. That plan, is constantly being modified to better tailor each unit’s needs, said Woodrum. JTF-CS considered that plan when creating this particular loadout concept.
For the military buff, here is a bit of background about the Army’s UTM plan. The Army has stated for over a century that the conventional Army has formally and informally used relatively small and light ground vehicles to meet tactical mobility needs in cases where standard tactical vehicles were too heavy, too large, or otherwise not appropriate, according to historical documents.
"The UTM platforms are not explicitly identified or considered by Army tactical wheeled vehicle (TWV) strategy or guidance, but they currently fall within the broad light tactical vehicle (LTV) category. The Army’s TWV strategy identifies the LTV category as including any vehicle capable of being transported by a CH-47F, having a cargo capacity equal to or less than 5,100 pounds, and consisting of armored and unarmored variants for the following three specific mission sets," explained Army Col Eric Oh, Director of Operations at JTF-CS.
“Given the persistent use of UTM currently and throughout the Army's history, the JTF-CS vehicles and equipment fall in line with similar light urban vehicles and assets needed for rapid mobility,” said Oh.
Besides being a ready and responsive force, the loadout training reinforced our command’s relationship-building through assistance from another organization, explained Oh. “That’s unity of effort and helps us be prepared to assist with life-saving operations if called upon to respond to a domestic catastrophic event.”
After more than an hour of flight, the team returned to Felker Army Airfield with all goals being met.
“One of JTF-CS’ core principals is speed and sense of urgency. Our team is the best at what we do – crisis response, and today we practiced a particular deployment concept to get even better,” said Woodrum.