Army North exercises DoD’s newest civil support force

By Don Manuszewski | U. S. Army North Public Affairs Staff | October 30, 2009

U. S. ARMY NORTH – As the leaves turn and the country heads into winter U. S. Army North personnel are preparing to exercise and train the one of the Department of Defense’s consequence management response forces at Camp Atterbury, Ind. Nov 1 – 13.

Exercise Vibrant Response 10.1 will put about four thousand members of Chemical, Biological, Nuclear, High Yield Explosive Consequence Management Response Force, or CCMRF, 10.1 through a domestic incident response in support of a primary agency for the first time.

The exercise is part of the U. S. Northern Command program designed to integrate DOD forces into the larger federal response to a catastrophic incident.  As the USNORTHCOM Joint Force Land Component Command, ARNORTH is tasked with the responsibility to exercise and train the CCMRF forces.  CCMRF 10.1 and CCMRF 10.2 stood up Oct. 1.

Led by Joint Task Force Civil Support, Fort Monroe, Va., CCMRF10.1 will converge on the Camp Atterbury area in response to a scenario based on the detonation of a 10-kiloton radiological device.  DOD, forces requested by a primary federal agency, will assist the affected region in mitigating the effects of the incident.

"It's important to understand that the Department of Defense does not have overall responsibility for incidents of this nature," said Maj. Gen Daniel "Chip" Long, commanding general, JTF-CS. "The Governor is normally responsible for his or her state. We are part of an overall federal response and support a primary agency like FEMA or the FBI."

What makes this exercise different from others in the past is the number of people participating and the outstanding facilities at the Muscatatuk Urban Training Center near Camp Atterbury, said John Olivar, deputy chief of Exercises and Training at ARNORTH.

“Muscatatuk is unique because it has the buildings and infrastructure of a small city,” he said. “It has a hospital, nursing homes, parking garages, power plant, schools, police station, road networks, tunnels that will enable the CCMRF to operate as if they would in a real town anywhere in the USA to save lives and support the local, state and federal authorities.”

The first week of the exercise is a deployment readiness exercise that will concentrate on CCMRF units moving into the affected area.  As with a no-notice deployment the DRE will start with the unit alert and take them all the way through the Joint Reception, Staging, Onward Movement, and Integration process.
“We have to exercise the entire process, including the JRSOI process, from beginning to end,” said Olivar. “If we didn’t, how would we be prepared when we need to do it for real?"

Once in place, the units will form the task forces responsible for the operations, medical and aviation pieces of the CCMRF mission and be taken through a field training exercise the second week of Vibrant Response 10.1.
CCMRF 10.1 Task Force Operations, led by the 4th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade,  Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. , will exercise on t mission sets such as crisis action planning, establishing forward operating bases and civil engineering operations.  Additionally, TF Ops is responsible for technical support operations to include radiological reconnaissance and assessment, biological detection operations, search and rescue operations, and mass casualty decontamination operations.

Another of the task forces, TF Aviation, commanded and controlled by the National Guard’s 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade, Frankfort, Ky., will exercise the validation of the air mission request and medical evacuation support processes.  The unit will also conduct mission preparation of the area for situational awareness and their ability to track aviation assets. Perhaps most importantly, Vibrant Response will also stretch TF Aviation’s ability to execute support and maintenance to  ensure a high level of aircraft operations readiness. 

“We’re definitely going to put TF Aviation through as many situations as we can,” said Olivar.  “The more lessons we can learn from this exercise, the better prepared we’ll make the force.”

The third CCMRF 10.1 task force is Task Force Medical, headquarted by the 62nd Medical Brigade, Fort Lewis, Wash.  Their exercise will involve coordinating the full spectrum of medical support for title 10 forces.  The support includes ground evacuation, hospitalization, preventive medicine, veterinary care, medical logistical support and blood distribution. 

“Task Force Med is critical to the CCMRF mission,” said Olivar.  “They provide life sustaining support to the affected regions and work with civilian partners to ensure the regions get the medical support necessary to mitigate the effects of the incident.” 

Providing overall command and control for CCMRF is JTF-CS, the only joint task force whose mission is solely focused on domestic CBRNE consequence management.  They will be exercised on their ability to coordinate synchronized CBRNE consequence management tasks by all three TFs as well as conducting assigned CBRNE tasks and doing it all in coordination with interagency and intergovernmental partners.

ARNORTH officials have said that this is a challenging exercise and should provide the most realistic training possible for the CCMRF to be ready if needed.

“Because this is the first time we have deployed and employed the CCMRF in a field training event, we hope to have many lessons learned so that we can improve the speed of response, and fine tune our tactics, techniques and procedures in supporting the American people.” Olivar concluded.