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    Homeland Response Force exercise held at Fort Indiantown Gap

    Homeland Response Force exercise held at Fort Indiantown Gap

    Photo By Brad Rhen | Service members from the Pennsylvania National Guard's 3rd CBRN (Chemical, Biological,...... read more read more



    Story by Brad Rhen 

    Joint Force Headquarters - Pennsylvania National Guard

    FORT INDIANTOWN GAP, Pa. – Nearly 400 Pennsylvania National Guard members in the state’s Homeland Response Force conducted a collective training exercise here Nov. 17 to 20.

    Soldiers and Airmen from Army and Air National Guard units from across the state participated in the exercise, which included a mission command element and a field element at Fort Indiantown Gap’s “rock pile.” The scenario for the exercise was a chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear, or CBRN, event in a large city, said Lt. Col. Robert Cuthie, executive officer of the HRF and officer-in-charge of the exercise.

    “These exercises enable us to practice conducting mission command so that everybody in the room understands when we get called up to deploy, we understand exactly how to communicate and work together but also how to work with civilian agencies,” Cuthie said. “We have a new system that we’re getting the service members used to, to conduct mission command. So, the Soldiers are training on that software and learning how to incorporate it into our command post so they can use it to share information and ensure everyone has a common operating picture.”

    The HRF draws its members from Army and Air National Guard units from across Pennsylvania and typically conducts exercises twice a year. The HRF has a full-time staff of about 30 service members, but most of its members only train together during these two exercises, Cuthie said.

    “Most of these people come together for this event and get to know each other and they practice their procedures, we build our [standard operating procedures] and we prepare all of our equipment for if we were to be called up,” said Cuthie whose M-day position is commander of 2nd Squadron, 104th Cavalry Regiment, 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team. “We’re always teaching new people what their job is, how they can integrate and be part of the team.”

    At the rock pile – a pile of concrete slabs, damaged vehicles and other debris meant to simulate the aftermath of a bombing or CBRN event – service members from the 3rd CBRN Task Force practiced common tasks that they would employ at a collapsed structure. The tasks included drilling and cutting through concrete, moving large pieces of debris using crowbars and pipes, and shoring unstable objects.

    “We have a fairly new team,” said Staff Sgt. Jacob Van Keuren, search and extraction training noncommissioned officer with the 3rd CBRN Task Force. “We’re getting them acclimated to working in their suits because there’s very limited dexterity.”

    Van Keuren said exercises like this are very beneficial, especially with so many new members of the task force.

    “It’s great to have them going through the motions, getting hands-on experience, especially in their suits, because these are very perishable skills,” Van Keuren said. “It’s just like any other military task: you need to do the task to get proficient at it.”



    Date Taken: 11.23.2022
    Date Posted: 11.23.2022 08:37
    Story ID: 433888

    Web Views: 50
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