Joint Task Force Civil Support hosts consequence management conference
March 3, 2007
How to protect communities from terrorist and biological attacks topped the agenda last week for more than 100 servicemembers and civilians gathered at Joint Task Force Civil Support headquarters at Fort Monroe, Va.
The U.S. Northern Command Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and High-Yield Explosive Commanders’ Conference, held Feb. 21-23, brought JTF-CS subordinate task force and unit commanders here to discuss common concerns regarding operational requirements of the CBRNE Consequence Management mission and to begin preparations for Exercise Ardent Sentry 2007.
“We’re giving operationally focused briefs to our CCMRF ( CBRNE Consequence Management Response Force) units to help them prepare and successfully deploy for a CBRNE mission in the continental United States, its territories and possessions,” said JTF-CS Current Operations Specialist Hawley Waterman, who helped organized the conference. “This is also an opportunity to get acquainted and establish better relationships with (subordinate commanders).”
Among the conference participants were nine Defense Coordinating Officers. DCOs are officers assigned to each Federal Emergency Management Agency region who coordinate DoD responses with FEMA. JTF-CS is a standing task force under U.S. Northern Command that provides assistance in support of a lead federal agency such as FEMA after the president or secretary of defense authorizes a federal response.
The conference provides DCOs opportunities to integrate and find training opportunities with joint task force commanders, said Michael S. Chesney, FEMA Defense Region V DCO. When it comes to a JTF-CS type of operation, he said, the DCOs are typically deployed and assigned in these areas to establish connections and communications.
“We’re like the scouts,” Chesney said, referring to DCOs who work day-to-day in 10 regions across the United States. “We have situational awareness of what’s happening in each of the states that we’re responsible for and provide that federal assistance if and when needed.
“Typically, we support both man-made and disaster-operations defense support of civil authorities,” Chesney said. “We’re the piece that integrates all those federal assets that come out of the Department of Defense to provide those states that are in need.”
Five distinct task forces that answer to the JTF-CS mission and will be part of Ardent Sentry 2007 were represented in the conference: Task Force Medical, Task Force Response, Task Force Support, Task Force Aviation and Task Force Troops. Each task force unit will bring assets to support the JTF-CS mission, including soldiers to evacuate citizens, helicopters to rescue the injured, medical support, transport planes to move supplies and decontamination teams. Ardent Sentry 2007 is a command and control exercise scheduled May 10 through the 18th in Camp Atterbury, Ind.
Organizations participating in the consequence management conference included U.S. Northern Command, U.S. Army North, Indiana Air National Guard, Joint Force Headquarters National Capital Region, Army Forces Command, U.S. Transportation Command, and Joint Forces Command.
It is critical for military organizations to understand one another and to be able to talk to each other during a potential or real crisis so they do not overreact, said Marine Capt. Michael Holcomb, Chemical, Biological, Incident Response Force Operations Officer, Indian Head, Md., and a member of Task Force Response.
“There are a lot of legal and operational hurdles people aren’t familiar with,” Holcomb said. “We iron out these issues to make sure we have a solid plan to go out and protect the American public.”
Army Col. Lenwood Landrum, JTF-CS Director of Operations, said the conference was a success.
“JTF-CS was able to do some significant pre-incident planning with subordinate units,” Landrum said. “The conference gave us a good opportunity to discuss plans and procedures on a face-to-face basis with unit leaders. It also allowed us to do intensive planning for the upcoming Ardent Sentry 2007 Exercise.”