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News | June 22, 2022

Iron Dragons assume mission command over domestic CBRN defense response task force

By Walter Ham 20th CBRNE Command

The 110th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear (CBRN) Battalion (Technical Escort) “Iron Dragons” have assumed mission command of Task Force 2 in the Defense CBRN Response Force.

Known as the DCRF, the Defense CBRN Response Force saves lives, mitigates suffering and facilitates recovery operations.

In support of U.S. Northern Command’s Joint Task Force-Civil Support, the task force conducts Defense Support to Civil Authorities response operations planning and preparedness to ensure mission readiness.

The 110th Chemical Brigade (Technical Escort) is part of the 48th Chemical Brigade and 20th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives (CBRNE) Command, the U.S. military’s premier all hazards headquarters.

Outside the wire and inside the cordon, Soldiers and civilians from 20th CBRNE Command take on the world’s most dangerous hazards in support of joint, interagency and allied operations around the world.

The Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland-headquartered 20th CBRNE Command is home to 75 percent of the Active Duty Army’s CBRN specialists and Explosive Ordnance Disposal technicians, as well as the 1st Area Medical Laboratory, CBRNE Analytical and Remediation Activity, five Weapons of Mass Destruction Coordination Teams and three Nuclear Disablement Teams.

The Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington-based Iron Dragons tackle CBRN hazards during military operations and domestic missions.

Maj. Trey W. Ferguson, the executive officer of the 110th Chemical Brigade, said units from Joint Base Lewis-McChord; Fort Hood, Texas; Fort Bliss, Texas; Fort Stewart, Georgia; Fort Riley, Kansas; Fort Campbell, Kentucky; and several other bases participated in Exercise Guardian Response in preparation for service in the DCRF.

“Guardian Response serves as the validation exercise for three battalion task forces and three brigade task forces supported by multiple enablers who will respond to the country's darkest hour in a domestic incident,” said Ferguson. “The 110th CBRN Battalion successfully validated their task force headquarters, mass casualty decontamination, urban search and rescue and hazardous material reconnaissance and surveillance teams.

"The scenario followed the aftermath of a 10-kiloton nuclear detonation in a major metropolitan city and the actions necessary to prevent further loss of life," said Ferguson.

Reserve component observers, controllers and trainers from across the nation assisted U.S. Army North and Joint Task Force-Civil in evaluating DCRF units.

The Fort Bliss, Texas-based 44th Chemical Battalion is the mass casualty decontamination company assigned to Task Force 2. The Fort Campbell, Kentucky-based 63d CBRN Company and the Fort Riley, Kansas-based 172d CBRN Company are serving in Task Forces 1 and 3.

The units will conclude the DCRF mission in May 2023.

A native of Sarasota, Florida, Ferguson has served for 12 years as an Active Duty Army CBRN officer. He has served in assignments with U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, U.S. Army Forces Command and U.S. Special Operations Command.

“I became a CBRN officer because I found the work and mission challenging yet rewarding,” said Ferguson. “The nuances of CBRN and Weapons of Mass Destruction are fascinating, and it is truly rewarding when we can provide commanders solutions to our unique problem set.”

Ferguson said the units excelled while preparing for the DCRF mission.

“In my professional opinion, the units under mission year 2022 are some of the most prepared and validated units to ever assume this mission,” said Ferguson, adding that the incident commander and exercise leader said that this was the first exercise in more than 10 years where every battalion task force validated the first time.

“We integrated with civilian agencies and performed our duties and responsibilities with the utmost professionalism to ensure we leave no doubt that we stand ready to answer the nation's call,” said Ferguson.