News: 51st Signal soldiers provide 'vibrant response' during disaster exercise
Story by Capt. Larry Pugh
CAMP ATTERBURY, Ind. - In preparation its upcoming assumption of the Army's Defense Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosives Response Force signal support mission, the 51st Expeditionary Signal Battalion, 35th Signal Brigade participated in Vibrant Response, an annual validation exercise at Camp Atterbury, Ind.
During the exercise, held Aug. 5 -20, nearly 200 service members from the battalion joined with another 5,700 civilians and service members from across the country in responding to a simulated catastrophic domestic incident.
"This is some of the most realistic training that our soldiers will ever see," Command Sgt. Maj. Henry Montoya, the 51st ESB command sergeant major. "You cannot replicate this training unless a catastrophic event was to actually happen and we responded to it."
Simulating real-world notification and deployment, the battalion deployed from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., via various commercial and military air flights. After troops loaded out 139 pieces of rolling stock (trucks, trailers, generators and satellites) and 29 containers, service men and women flowed in to Indiana over the next week and immediately aligned with units from across the force.
The training areas in Indiana simulated a city in ruins after a disaster and troops responded accordingly throughout the exercise.
"There are areas where the battalion may deploy to in case of an emergency that would be hot, humid, and unrelenting in comparison to the mild Joint Base Lewis-McChord weather, said Lt. Col. David Lamy, the 51st ESB commander. "Leaders are expected to learn from this exercise and develop tactics, techniques, and procedures that will ensure we are doing the most we can do to take care of our number one asset, our soldiers, and still exceed all mission requirements."
According to Lamy, the 51st Signal Battalion plays an integral role in the Joint Task Force-Civil Support mission. The battalion enables Mission Command for not only the JTF--CS Headquarters, but also the four main Task Force Headquarters (Logistics, Operations, Medical, and Aviation) and their subordinate units.
The 51st Signal Battalion's portion of the DCRF mission is comprised of nearly 500 soldiers who can respond to CBRNE incidents within the continental United States within 24 hours.
"To think that we would be part of saving people or helping to save people here in our own country, it is kind of an honor," said Spc. Montrey Bush, a soldier assigned to B Company, 51st ESB.
After only two weeks away from home, 10 soldiers from the 51st Signal Battalion received impact Army Achievement Medals from the four Task Force commanders, 16 soldiers received coins of excellence from various brigade and battalion commanders, and 32 soldiers received certificates of achievement.