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    Army Reserve emergency response capabilities center stage at Guardian Response 17

    Army Reserve Emergency Response Capabilities center stage at Guardian Response 17

    Photo By Angele Ringo | Pvt. Tyreek Bennett, a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear specialist with...... read more read more



    Story by 1st Sgt. Angele Ringo 

    215th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

    BUTLERVILLE, Ind.--Signs of distress and desperation spray painted on bed sheets hang from dilapidated buildings reduced to rubble from a nuclear blast. ‘Is this hell’ reads one sign waving near a wrecked police vehicle just off a road littered with clothes and debris in every direction.

    “It’s kind of hard to simulate [a] chemical [attack] but this is pretty good training,” said Sgt. Nicholas Smoak, a Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Specialist, as he looked around the mass casualty decontamination area.

    His unit, the 414th CBRN Company based in Orangeburg, S.C., is part of Guardian Response 17, a multi-component training exercise designed to simulate and test the military’s ability to support civil authorities in the event of a chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear incident. The unit specializes in CBRN reconnaissance, decontamination and analysis. What’s different about this scenario is that their focus is on support of stateside civilian authorities as part of the CBRN Response Enterprise or CRE.

    “This is a mission that most folks don’t think we’re involved in,” said Brig. Gen. Michael Dillard, 78th Training Division commanding general. “A lot of our civilian partners call upon the military to assist them with these particular incidents because we also have capability. We have transportation, we have medical, [and] we do decontamination.”

    CRE units make up a set of Department of Defense forces that rapidly deploy in the event of a CBRN event. Guardian Response 17 brought nearly 4,100 members from the Army Reserve, National Guard and Active component to work with civilian authorities to save lives in the midst of chaos. The scenario was made all the more real by more than a hundred role players that members of the 414th CBRN Company and the 409th Area Support Medical Company had to assess, decontaminate, treat and transport as quickly as possible.

    “This is probably the best training we’ve ever gotten because we’re working with other [military units],” said Smoak. “We’re actually getting live patients. We’re getting a better look at some things.”

    414th CBRN Co. Commander, Capt. Raymond Lawson, whose unit will be on-call to support the CRE in June, said the rapid response nature of the mission requires Soldiers to maintain a higher state of readiness and that often means additional training.

    “There are certifications that go into this,” said Lawson. “So, there are specialties that are mission specific that a lot of soldiers have to train up for.”

    More than half of the Army’s transportation and medical units as well as 39 percent of chemical units reside in the Army Reserve.

    While the entire exercise revolved around a nuclear incident, a number of mini scenarios, or injects, forced Soldiers to think on their feet and take action. They worked under the watchful eyes of observer controllers and evaluators, like Catherine Gibson with Advance Technical Education Training (ATEC), who says that incidents around the world in recent years have highlighted the need for civilian authorities to be able to tap into specific military capabilities. Gibson, who is also an Army Reserve chemical noncommissioned officer, also said communication and training have become increasingly more relevant as civilian authorities have begun to recognize military assets as a viable tool.

    “You want to be able to come in and work together as a team,” she said. “Prime example [was] 9/11. Officers weren’t talking to the firefighters and the radio communication wasn’t working. That’s when this mission became important and really became big. They realized that people were getting lost, people were dying because of the fact that they couldn’t communicate together.”

    CBRN Response Enterprise units remain on call for two years. As the 414th CBRN Company prepares to take on its new responsibilities in June, Lawson said his team is up for the challenge.

    “For those that already have careers in emergency services, they love doing this and they love being able to do it here,” said Lawson. “For other Soldiers, it offers them the chance to do something different. It’s an exciting mission. It’s demanding, but it’s rewarding. They like to know that they can be depended on to help in case disaster strikes.”



    Date Taken: 05.10.2017
    Date Posted: 05.11.2017 06:02
    Story ID: 233404
    Location: BUTLERVILLE, IN, US 

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