JTF-CS focuses on catastrophic scenario at Mission Planning Conference 2018

By Air Force Tech. Sgt. Michael Campbell Joint Task Force Civil Support

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Joint Task Force Civil Support (JTF-CS) hosted their semi-annual Mission Planning Conference (MPC) that featured a Rehearsal of Concept (ROC) Drill at Fort Eustis, Va. Dec 3 through 4, 2018, with 58 attendees from 26 organizations and units across the United States and Canada. The conference’s ROC Drill concentrated on catastrophic scenarios presented by subject matter experts with the most up-to-date information on JTF-CS response operations.

“The ROC drill helps us identify critical friction points and key concerns about how CRE forces deploy, arrive, process, and begin saving lives and mitigating suffering,” said Army Maj. Gen. Bill Hall, JTF-CS commander.  “This is also a good stage setter for Exercise Sudden Response/Determined Response in January 2019 because we addressed important issues and solutions, leading to an action plan for success.”

The MPC prepared and strengthened the knowledge of response operations for the Defense Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Response Force (DCRF) and other DoD CBRN Response Enterprise (CRE) entities for participation in response operations.

The JTF-CS consists of a staff of 163 people charged with crisis response command and control of the 5,200-member DCRF. Each unit sent senior leaders and representatives to the conference to gain more professional knowledge of their part in the JTF-CS mission.

“It is important to have an understanding of our capabilities, constraints, and restraints as we integrate as part of a force,” said U.S. Army Col. Mark Johnson, commander, 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, Hunter Army Airfield, Savanah, Ga., part of Task Force Aviation. “It is not until we get together do we fully understand the capabilities and how we can support the task force.”

“Conferences like this get members to talk, plan and create a collaborative future together,” said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Jeffery Westbrook, JTF-CS chief of future operations. “You must have a conference like this because emails and phone calls don’t work all the time. This is where the metal meets the road in interpersonal relationships.”

The most recent MPC started with an emphasis on creating a shared understanding of the units that make up the CRE, how they are organized, and how they operate.

Attendees discussed official time of CBRN incident notification (n-hour) sequence operations that signals the start of activities.

Day two of the ROC drill covered the movement of units from home installation to the incident by the DCRF in Phase II and Phase III and examined a replicated scenario/orders brief that would feed into a Nuclear Detonation (NUDET) exercise scenario.

U.S. Army North Commander Lt. Gen. Jeffrey S. Buchanan spoke to the audience on day two of the conference by video teleconference and stressed the necessity of unity of effort from all responders during CBRN Response Operations and Defense Support to Civil Authorities (DSCA).

“We need to understand how we can work together to solve the next problem; that’s unity of effort,” Buchanan said. “We’ve got to have patience to sequence things so they have the right effect, and we don’t want to be late to need. So we must work the problem together to develop our C2 relationships. It’s not good enough to know yourself, you have to help others understand how you operate.”

The MPC culminated on day two with the ROC Drill NUDET Scenario in which the attendees from several organizations worked together to refine plans for saving lives and mitigating suffering of the simulated affected population.

The conference takeaway was a profound sense of appreciation for the overall CRE and several critical points of friction to be addressed by future coordination, planning, and training, said Westbrook.

“Opportunities like this provide a venue to openly discuss our process center systems and also how we are planning and see not just ourselves but just as important to see each other and how we can best support the overall mission,” said U.S. Army Col. Kimberlee Aiello, commander, 44th Medical Brigade, Fort Bragg, N.C., part of Task Force Medical. “This mission is based on relationships and shared understanding that must be synchronized.”

In the event of a catastrophic CBRN incident, the JTF-CS and DCRF missions assist local, state, federal and tribal partners in saving lives, preventing further injury, and providing critical support to enable community recovery when conducting Defense Support of the Civil Authorities response operations.

“The exercise was useful because it gave a scenario within which we could have a dialog which is helpful in facilitating a conversation of our capabilities and limitations,” said Johnson. “It allows us to go and think about how we can reshape our engagements as part of the task force.”

(U.S. Army Lt. Col. Jeffery Westbrook, JTF-CS chief of future operations contributed to this story)