• Structures specialists with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Urban Search and Rescue Program are on site at Capital Shield to assist the 911th Engineers and the CBIRF technical rescue platoon in evaluation and execution of rescue operations in the partly collapsed structure, their role in any actual incident.

    Capital Shield 08

    Structures specialists with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Urban Search and Rescue Program are on site at Capital Shield to assist the 911th Engineers and the CBIRF technical rescue platoon in evaluation and execution of rescue operations in the...

  • A Navy camera records the movements of the CBIRF unit sniffing out the disaster site prior to effecting rescue of persons within.

    Capital Shield 08

    A Navy camera records the movements of the CBIRF unit sniffing out the disaster site prior to effecting rescue of persons within.

  • Soldiers of the 911th Engineers probe about the smoky gap blown in the wall by the hypothetical Al Queda attack on the Hart Senate Office Building.

    Capital Shield 08

    Soldiers of the 911th Engineers probe about the smoky gap blown in the wall by the hypothetical Al Queda attack on the Hart Senate Office Building.

  • The 911th Engineers advance party maps its reconaissance information outside the bomb-damaged buidling.

    Capital Shield 08

    The 911th Engineers advance party maps its reconaissance information outside the bomb-damaged buidling.

  • An FBI forensics team member pores over the blast area for debris and other evidence that she will flag for later collection.

    Capital Shield 08

    An FBI forensics team member pores over the blast area for debris and other evidence that she will flag for later collection.

  • Vehicles with supplies and equipment of the 911th Technical Rescue Engineer Company roll slowly into the Capital Shield 08 FTX site guided by a Soldier of the 911th.

    Capital Shield 08

    Vehicles with supplies and equipment of the 911th Technical Rescue Engineer Company roll slowly into the Capital Shield 08 FTX site guided by a Soldier of the 911th.

  • Flatbeds loaded with the 911th Engineers' equipment and supplies roll through the Lorton Youth Correctional facility gate in the early afternoon.

    Capital Shield 08

    Flatbeds loaded with the 911th Engineers' equipment and supplies roll through the Lorton Youth Correctional facility gate in the early afternoon.

  • JFHQ-NCR exercise planner and controller Cory Wright and Dann Pickens, Commanders Assessment Element. go over medical evacuation issues with CBIRF personnel should anyone actually be injured in the exercise.

    Capital Shield 08

    JFHQ-NCR exercise planner and controller Cory Wright and Dann Pickens, Commanders Assessment Element. go over medical evacuation issues with CBIRF personnel should anyone actually be injured in the exercise.

  • The 911th reconaissance team arrives on site in advance of the main body of the Army Technical Rescue company.

    Capital Shield 08

    The 911th reconaissance team arrives on site in advance of the main body of the Army Technical Rescue company.

  • Capt. Wayne Benson of the DC Fire and Emergency Medical Services, left, talks staging issues with Navy Lt. Cdr. Touseef A. Badar, commander of CBIRF, and Capt. Frank Tedeschi, commander of the 911th Engineers, right.

    Capital Shield 08

    Capt. Wayne Benson of the DC Fire and Emergency Medical Services, left, talks staging issues with Navy Lt. Cdr. Touseef A. Badar, commander of CBIRF, and Capt. Frank Tedeschi, commander of the 911th Engineers, right.

  • An agent checks an engine block in the debris field of the simulated Capital Shield blast.

    Capital Shield 08

    An agent checks an engine block in the debris field of the simulated Capital Shield blast.

  • Bombs in and near the Capitol bring out the FBI to make an initial survey of the crime scene, checking for the possibility of other explosives.

    Capital Shield 08

    Bombs in and near the Capitol bring out the FBI to make an initial survey of the crime scene, checking for the possibility of other explosives.

  • The communications cell provided interlinking of communications systems during the exercise.

    Capital Shield 08

    The communications cell provided interlinking of communications systems during the exercise.

  • Some participants thought of Halloween costuming as they dressed out in moulage for the CBIRF mass casualty event. Pvt. Owen Morell of H Company, 1st of the 3rd, is one.

    Capital Shield 08

    Some participants thought of Halloween costuming as they dressed out in moulage for the CBIRF mass casualty event. Pvt. Owen Morell of H Company, 1st of the 3rd, is one.

  • Master Sgt. Elizabeth Tolbert of the 11th Mission Support Squadron looks for a pair of pants that will stay up. She and dozens of others have a date to be evaduated in a mass casualty exercise in Capital Shield 08.

    Capital Shield 08

    Master Sgt. Elizabeth Tolbert of the 11th Mission Support Squadron looks for a pair of pants that will stay up. She and dozens of others have a date to be evaduated in a mass casualty exercise in Capital Shield 08.

  • Joint Task Force National Capital Region Commander Maj. Gen. Richard J. Rowe Jr. listens as Capt. Frank Tedeschi briefs the technical rescue operations being undertaken by the 911th Engineer Company he commands. Tedeschi helped plan the exercise along with the company special projects section and left command of the unit durng the exercise to his executive officer, Capt. William K. Torpey.

    Capital Shield 08

    Joint Task Force National Capital Region Commander Maj. Gen. Richard J. Rowe Jr. listens as Capt. Frank Tedeschi briefs the technical rescue operations being undertaken by the 911th Engineer Company he commands. Tedeschi helped plan the exercise along...

  • A winch cable is attached to one of the vehicles blocking the route the Engineers plan to take entering the building to recover survivors.

    Capital Shield 08

    A winch cable is attached to one of the vehicles blocking the route the Engineers plan to take entering the building to recover survivors.

  • An automobile hulk is pulled from off another as the 911th begins the task of entering the building that for purposes of Capital Shield 08 is a bombed section of the Hart Senate Office Building.

    Capital Shield 08

    An automobile hulk is pulled from off another as the 911th begins the task of entering the building that for purposes of Capital Shield 08 is a bombed section of the Hart Senate Office Building.

  • Pfc. Jerry Strong assists PV2 Derrick DaRouse, whose broken leg was splinted before he was taken from the mock congressional building where the 911th was deployed when it was attacked in Capital Shield 08.

    Capital Shield 08

    Pfc. Jerry Strong assists PV2 Derrick DaRouse, whose broken leg was splinted before he was taken from the mock congressional building where the 911th was deployed when it was attacked in Capital Shield 08.

  • Victims rescued from the building take their ease on the roadside grass. These are dummies, but more that 50 live role-players participated in the exercise, lending realism to the Capital Shield exercise.

    Capital Shield 08

    Victims rescued from the building take their ease on the roadside grass. These are dummies, but more that 50 live role-players participated in the exercise, lending realism to the Capital Shield exercise.

  • The locations of two additional persons located by 911th Engineers are marked on the map being kept of the Hart building recovery effort.

    Capital Shield

    The locations of two additional persons located by 911th Engineers are marked on the map being kept of the Hart building recovery effort.

  • Many of the shoring techniques used by urban rescuers, like these placed by the 911th Engineers during Capital Shield, were developed in mining operations.

    Capital Shield 08

    Many of the shoring techniques used by urban rescuers, like these placed by the 911th Engineers during Capital Shield, were developed in mining operations.

  • Once a dark and smoky hallway, lights and ventilation have cleared much of the air and brought visibility to the Lorton structure as it doubles for the Hart Senate Office Building.

    Capital Shield 08

    Once a dark and smoky hallway, lights and ventilation have cleared much of the air and brought visibility to the Lorton structure as it doubles for the Hart Senate Office Building.

  • Many of the shoring techniques used by urban rescuers, like these placed by the 911th Engineers during Capital Shield, were developed in mining operations.

    Capital Shield 08

    Many of the shoring techniques used by urban rescuers, like these placed by the 911th Engineers during Capital Shield, were developed in mining operations.

  • Like the 911th, the Indian Head, Md.-based CBIRF urban rescue platoon shored against further building collapse as it headed inward for a maze of enclosed space rescue work in Capital Shield 08.

    Capital Shield 08

    Like the 911th, the Indian Head, Md.-based CBIRF urban rescue platoon shored against further building collapse as it headed inward for a maze of enclosed space rescue work in Capital Shield 08.

  • Daylight breaks over the rescue site where three shifts of the 911th Engineers are maintaining around-the-clock operations to rescue the mock victims trapped in the collapsed Hart Senate Office Building, a structure slated for demolition in Lorton, Va.

    Capital Shield 08

    Daylight breaks over the rescue site where three shifts of the 911th Engineers are maintaining around-the-clock operations to rescue the mock victims trapped in the collapsed Hart Senate Office Building, a structure slated for demolition in Lorton, Va.

  • NORTHCOM and JFHQ-NCR operations staff crew the on-site Mobile Command Center during the Lorton, Va. FTX.

    Capital Shield 08

    NORTHCOM and JFHQ-NCR operations staff crew the on-site Mobile Command Center during the Lorton, Va. FTX.

  • A Marine checks remaining radioactivity levels on a casualty after initial decontamination during the Capital Shield mass casualty play.

    Capital Shield 08

    A Marine checks remaining radioactivity levels on a casualty after initial decontamination during the Capital Shield mass casualty play.

  • Marines wheel the injured to the decontamination site during Captial Shield 08.

    Capital Shield 08

    Marines wheel the injured to the decontamination site during Captial Shield 08.

  • Another patient is immobilized for extraction from the blast site by CBIRF personnel. They sounded like Darth Vader in their respirators, recalled one 'victim.'

    Capital Shield 08

    Another patient is immobilized for extraction from the blast site by CBIRF personnel. They sounded like Darth Vader in their respirators, recalled one 'victim.'

  • Robert Taylor of the Corps of Engineers locates a reference point on the breached wall of the Lorton exercise building with the tripod-mounted Nikon Total Station, one of two devices brought in to measure movement in the wall that might signal a n imminent collapse.

    Capital Shield 08

    Robert Taylor of the Corps of Engineers locates a reference point on the breached wall of the Lorton exercise building with the tripod-mounted Nikon Total Station, one of two devices brought in to measure movement in the wall that might signal a n...

  • An excavator trucked in by the 911th Technical Rescue Engineer Company, the only such unit in the Army, makes short work of opening a trench vertical to the foundation wall of the partially collapsed exercise site.

    Capital Shield 08

    An excavator trucked in by the 911th Technical Rescue Engineer Company, the only such unit in the Army, makes short work of opening a trench vertical to the foundation wall of the partially collapsed exercise site.

  • Pvt. Jacob Alexander gets moulage applied by Chief Warrant Officer David Horvath of the CBIRF team. Old Guard Soldiers, like Alexander from Alpha Company, were among those participating in the exercise as role players.

    Capital Shield 08

    Pvt. Jacob Alexander gets moulage applied by Chief Warrant Officer David Horvath of the CBIRF team. Old Guard Soldiers, like Alexander from Alpha Company, were among those participating in the exercise as role players.

A deadly bomb ripped into the Hart Senate Office Building shortly after 9 a.m. Monday, throwing the region into ... another Capital Shield exercise that primes the readiness of the military to lock arms with local and federal interagency partners in response.
With the region boarding up, stripping the store shelves bare of milk and bread, and otherwise preparing for Hurricane Victoria fictitiously churning her way up the coast of Virginia, U.S. Northern Command had already told Joint Force Headquarters National Capital Region to begin operations as Joint Task Force NCR. Forces from NORTHCOM were already on site to augment JTF-NCR.
Capital Shield 08 is the third in the series of exercises conducted by JFHQ-NCR and the first with Maj. Gen. Richard J. Rowe Jr. in command.
"The exercises provide a tremendous opportunity to practice individual and unit skills required to fulfill our tasks as assigned by U.S. Northern Command. Also, most importantly, we are able to exercise joint operations, techniques, procedures and command and control relationships with our joint, interagency and intergovernmental partners," Rowe said. "Capital Shield enhances our ability to communicate internally and with our interagency partners, and to test how well we are able to marshal resources and achieve a unity of effort toward primary goals."
Emergency preparedness plans for JTF-NCR run along three lines of operation, and all - homeland defense, continuity of operations, and mitigation of disaster -- were being taken out, tested, polished and assessed for refinements and other improvements.
"I want you all to ask yourselves three questions," Rowe told his command: "What was the plan' How did we do' What might be changed'"
This critical assessment, to be rolled up in hot washes, after action reports and courses of action, is what will be "the hard work" of the exercise, Col. Willie E. Gaddis, JFHQ-NCR chief of staff, said.
The exercise took place as national attention turned to wildfires in Southern California fueled by Santa Ana winds. News of the efforts there were tracked even as exercise participants and planners dealt with a terror attack that was found to be the work of Al Qaeda and a spate of tornados spawned by the collapsing hurricane - a tropical storm as it blew through the National Capital Region Monday evening, damaging Walter Reed Army Medical Center and requiring the evacuation and relocation of patients.
As is often the case in real life, news of the terrorist attack filtered in in stages, sometimes incorrect, and always with the sense that something more might happen at any time. Exercise injects from the simulation cell ensured just that.
The bomb at the Hart Office Building turned out to be two bombs, vehicle-borne IEDs, and another blast took place in the Capitol Rotunda itself. An exercise taking place at Andrews Air Force Base brought word that a chlorine tanker truck was exploded inside the west gate of the base, which served as the aerial port of debarkation for many of the arriving joint forces being brought in to meet security and other needs.
The attack on the congressional campus activated support arrangements with JTF-NCR that brought quick deployment of two of its first-responder units: the Marine Corps' Chemical, Biological Incident Response Force and the Army's 911th United States Army Technical Rescue Engineer Company - CBIRF (pronounced as two syllables) and the 911th Engineers, for short.
As the sole field training exercise in this year's Capital Shield, the units deployed to the former D.C. Youth Correctional Facility at Lorton, Va., where physical operations could take place without disrupting the activities of Congress, or at least not add to the disruption already afoot as rallies staged by protesters snarled traffic and brought a handful of arrests.
The Lorton site has been used in earlier Capital Shield exercises courtesy Fairfax County, which took over the entire prison complex in 2002 and has plans for development that mark the dormitories and other reformatory structures for demolition and use as parkland. Fairfax, a partner in past Capital Shield exercises, had just completed certification training for its technical-rescue crew a few weeks earlier, so limited its participation to "white force" assistance with the exercise rather than rolling in beside their military counterparts.
The buildings could be partly demolished and a massive incident command structure could be set up under the eye of the District of Columbia Fire Department and the Washington Regional Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Capt. Wayne Benson of D.C. Fire & Emergency Medical Services took charge as the incident commander at the Lorton/Hart site, and the incident command post also linked the FBI, whose agents treated the site as a crime scene even as CBIRF and the 911th were staging for their recovery efforts. Capt. John Sollers, a colleague of Benson's, took over for operations on days two and three.
The Quantico Marine Corps Base Fire Department came in to take part in the exercise beside the 911th and the CBIRF technical rescue platoon, which had its own "rat maze" in the facility to search. A light labor platoon from the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) gave additional help.
Others on site included both observers and participants from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Structural Engineers branch, which has recently been brought into the response plans and exercises for NCR events. Tom Niedermeier explained the role of the engineers, who would come from district offices throughout the East Coast, as providing professional engineering assistance for the working crews, keeping a step ahead of them in assessing shoring loads or the like, and increasing the marginal level of safety.
Among the tools brought was a device to focus optically on a point on a structure wall and gauge movement of the wall to less than a quarter of an inch.
Some of the engineers had worked in Washington or in New York after the 9/11 attacks, and one was a veteran of the Oklahoma City bombing response.
Lt. Jay Branson, a 911th Engineers platoon leader, enlisted in the Army in the wake of 911 and sought after the assignment "rescuing people" after he commissioned into the Engineers, having had combat engineer experience.
"This is the point of the spear," Branson commented as he passed a two foot length of 2x4 through an opening made by an acetylene torch in a heavy metal door. "This team will push forward as quickly as they can; others will come behind to improve and expand their work, search for and remove trapped victims."
"There's asbestos and other bad stuff in the air," Branson noted, explaining the need to wear filter respirators even with fresh air being pumped in to displace the smoke and carbon dioxide that was being generated as part of the field problem. The first crews in had to carry their own canisters of air, which could be refilled with the company's vehicle-mounted equipment.
Company Commander Capt. Frank Tedeschi said the smaller scale of this year's exercise had the advantage of allowing the company's special projects section to set up a maze that would challenge the more perishable skills called for. "We know what we need," Tedeschi said, but larger exercises sometimes narrow the range of skill sets called for to some of the most easily learned, breaching concrete, for example.
"One of the things we know we will need is shoring," Tedeschi said. The site gave plenty of that experience, both within the structure and with an external trench that opened an alternative, below-grade avenue of approach into the structure.
As the exercise advances, Tedeschi promised, a roof collapse would isolate the forward team, a door being opened would tip over containers of chlorine, and a high-line entry into the final "rat maze" would be there "as a challenge for the over-achievers."
Outside of the Lorton FTX site, the focus was on the Joint Operations Center. There questions of requests for forces, force protection measures, intelligence relating to attacks in New York City, cyber attacks, logistics, cost simulations, status of infrastructure, air operations environment and when effects and end states were achieved such that the end of exercise could occur, personnel could be released and the command settle back into its normal pace of business.
It is a more complicated environment in many respects than at the site of the crisis -for example, finding and treating the 50 role-playing victims in the CBIRF mass casualty exercise.
"We don't have a single plan to support emergencies, but rather a series of plans, all nested under the U.S. Northern Command emergency preparations plan to support the National Response Plan and the National Incident Management System," Rowe said.
"We are part of the federal response when the state requests capabilities they do not possess or have expended on other missions. This falls under the framework of the National Response Plan and the National Incident Management System. Our joint force efforts represent an incredible DoD effort along with the National Guard and our DoD Agency partners such as Pentagon Force Protection Agency, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, and NORAD as well as our uniformed teammates from the US Coast Guard.
"During incidents of national significance, the Department of Defense and the Joint Forces Headquarters National Capital Region bring special skills, special equipment, communications and information-sharing capabilities to bear in the NCR. If needed to save lives, prevent human suffering or mitigate great property damage, we can act immediately," Rowe concluded. "Otherwise when authorized by proper authorities."
The Capital Shield 08 exercise wrapped up Wednesday. A week prior, national-level exercises Vigilant Shield and TopOff 4 occupied U.S. Army North, U.S. Northern Command, the Department of Homeland Security and others in dirty bomb attacks in Guam, Oregon and Arizona.
At Capital Shield "EndEx," military assistance was still being staged and forwarded to fight the California wildfires through the same mechanisms that the National Capital Region defenders practiced.
Rowe declared himself "awestruck" and "very thankful as a commander" for the partnerships that were so in evidence for the Capital Shield FTX.

Page last updated Thu October 25th, 2007 at 15:53