News: TF76 prepares for emergency response mission
Story by Sgt. Juana Nesbitt
WESTOVER AIR RESERVE BASE, Mass. – In the small town of Chicopee, Massachusetts, Army units from all over the country gathered at the Air Force Reserve Complex here June 10-12, in preparation for Vibrant Response 14, an annual training event that measures federal forces response during a simulated catastrophic chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or explosive event.
“This is a digital command post exercise,” said Lt. Col. Timothy Green, chief of operations and medical planner for Task Force 51, a native of Gladewater, Texas. “It is meant to test communication packages across the Command and Control Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear Response Enterprise-A and its subordinate units, which are at different locations around the country.”
This training will provide Task Force 76 an opportunity to get its feet wet before attending Vibrant Response in August, said Green. After that, they will take over command and control of all Department of Defense forces activated in response to a CBRNE event.
As a key planner for TF 51, Green said one of the key elements for success on this type of mission is knowledge of the team.
“This is testing to build confidence in their strengths and capabilities, figure out their strengths and weaknesses; getting a better idea of what they will be dealing with on this mission,” said Green.
For TF 76, transitioning its skills for use during an emergency is quite a learning process.
“Today was the first day of what’s going to be a pretty long journey,” said Col. Brian Dieffenbacher, the communications director for TF76 G-6, of Williamsport, Pennsylvania. “We are developing our Army skills and applying them to a pretty new environment.”
In the end, all gained a better appreciation of the complexity and importance of this type of mission, said Dieffenbacher.
For Dieffenbacher, this experience is pretty exciting.
“It’s mostly defined as an exhilaration to take 24 years of experience, much of it in Iraq and the Special Operations community, and bring it back and defend the homeland, where our families live,” he said.