Joint Task Force Civil Support Participates in Nuclear Exercise

By Capt. Michael Giles | Joint Task Force Civil Support Medical Planner | October 16, 2006

Fort Monroe, VA -- Team members of the rapid deployment Joint Task Force Civil Support Command Assessment Element linked up with Federal Emergency Management officials and members of the New Jersey State Emergency Operations Center during an exercise involving a mock nuclear radiation leak from the Oyster Creek Nuclear Power Generation Facility.

"This is a great opportunity for the Department of Defense to observe the State of New Jersey responding to a nuclear accident exercise, one that will foster improved coordination and effort should the real event ever happen," said Maj. Sean Schoolcraft, Chief of Training and Readiness at JTF-CS

The JTF-CS CAE team observed the response to this incident from the New Jersey State Command Post in Trenton. During the exercise, State Police met with JTF-CS members and the FEMA Region II Defense Coordinating Officer in order to discuss the state’s emergency response plans.

"New Jersey is clearly a state that prides itself in terms of emergency response preparedness. Their plans are well thought-out, constructed and easily executable.
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Nonetheless, we did obtain some information that will prove useful to JTF-CS in the development of our plans for a truly catastrophic response," said Schoolcraft.

Members of JTF-CS also met with officials from the State of New Jersey and FEMA in order to ascertain how an incident response unfolds during an actual crisis. The New Jersey State Incident Response Commander and his staff walked JTF-CS members through the nuclear containment incident exercise scenario.

The interaction and the opportunity to establish real-world networks with response agencies was invaluable, according to JTF-CS planners.

"We learned there is tremendous value in meeting all the regional DCOs and establishing relations while continuing the education of all the responding forces. We all learn by watching and observing each other. There is no other way to do it and no one entity has all the answers," said Schoolcraft.

This was the first visit in a series of collaborative engagements between JTF-CS CAE team members and federal and state emergency responders throughout the U.S. Northern Command's area of responsibility. The purpose of the visits is to improve emergency response times, streamline agency actions, and develop working relationships that will expedite the response to a real world incident.

JTF-CS was established in 1999 to assist civil authorities with consequence management in the event of a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high-yield explosive event.

For more information, contact JTF-CS Public Affairs at (757) 788-6631.