MOTSU trains with federal, local emergency responders
Col. Joseph Calisto, 596th Transportation Brigade commander at MOTSU, hosts local media during a mass casualty scenario and explains the value of Point Defender and the importance of communication between multiple federal, state and local agencies involved in responding to emergency situations using this exercise as an example.

SUNNY POINT, N.C. -- Members of Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command’s 596th Transportation Brigade at Military Ocean Terminal Sunny Point partnered with North Carolina National Guard, U.S. Coast Guard, and multiple federal, state and local emergency response agencies during a weeklong exercise responding to a series of force protection scenarios as part of Point Defender 2011 exercise, June 13-17, in Sunny Point, N.C.

PD11 is MOTSU’s annual antiterrorism, force protection and emergency management exercise is designed to test the ability of MOTSU along with federal, state and local agencies to respond to natural disasters and Homeland Security type threats.

“I've been very impressed with the realistic scenarios and our overall response to each event,” said Col. Joseph Calisto, commander of the 596th Trans. Bde. “This is a tremendous training opportunity. This year's exercise has involved more functional areas of MOTSU than ever before as well as a few hundred North Carolina National Guard Soldiers from the Rapid Response Force, U.S. Coast Guard, and first responder and emergency management organizations across Brunswick and New Hanover counties.”

“This is a very large-in-scope exercise,” said Larry Ragan, anti-terrorism officer for SDDC.

“We even included a Chemical Biological Radiological and Nuclear, or CBRN, event which we were able to incorporate our civilian partners from two different counties and test response capabilities,” Ragan said. “We worked hand-in-hand with the local fire department and hospitals in the area. Their support of the exercise was invaluable, but it also allows their staff to run through realistic scenarios for their training, as well.”

SDDC has designed PD11 and similar exercises to help ensure the command’s brigades, such as MOTSU, conduct required annual force protection training requirements, Ragan said.

This year’s Point Defender includes the North Carolina National Guard’s Rapid Reaction Force, Joint Task Force and 42nd Civil Support Team, as well as the U.S. Coast Guard and the 539th Military Police Detachment. Brunswick and New Hanover Counties are supporting PD11 with emergency management staff, police and sheriff departments, medical teams and Explosive Ordnance Disposal technicians.

Capt. Jonathan A. Blevins, Provost Marshall for 596th Trans. Bde., said it is important for MOTSU, and its partner agencies, to participate in this exercise because it helps prepare them for real events that may compromise force protection.

“This exercise helps us build relationships, so we know which federal, state and local agencies to call, what their capabilities are, what we can assist them with and how they can assist us,” Blevins said.

Agencies participating in PD11 responded to numerous scenarios, including CBRN, natural disaster, riot, mass casualty, security breach, workplace violence, and maritime events. The realistic scenarios are designed to challenge and test first responders on their communication and coordination with local, state, federal partners, emergency response plan procedures and resource allocation.

“These scenarios are designed to exercise the participants’ training, get them out of their comfort zone, and allow them to self discover by practicing professional skills,” Ragan said. “Scenarios are focused on the safety and security of the installation and local community.”

As part of the exercise, MOTSU has requested the North Carolina National Guard augment their staff for security operations. The Guard’s Rapid Response Force, Joint Task Force and 42nd Civil Support Team have integrated with MOTSU and federal, state and local agencies involved in PD11.

Maj. Edward J. Wallace, current operations officer for North Carolina National Guard and PD11 exercise director for the Guard, said it was important for the Guard to integrate with local agencies and be able to respond to a real world event.

“We need to be able to integrate seamlessly; integrate our processes with theirs and be able to rapidly respond to community needs if a disaster occurs,” said Wallace.

The exercise’s evaluators are concentrated on MOTSU; however, the North Carolina National Guard is using PD11 to validate their readiness in responding to a natural disaster, known or suspected terrorist attack or civil unrest.

A team from Joint Forces Headquarters, Raleigh, N.C., was formed to evaluate and ensure exercise activities are coordinated with SDDC staff, as well as serve as role players and aggressors for the scenarios.

During PD11, the CST supported the U.S. Coast Guard with its readiness in maritime response incidents, as well as improving their internal procedures. The 42nd CST’s objectives are to conduct CBRN operations, provide land to vessel communication and conduct vessel boarding of personnel and equipment.

The Joint Task Force, led by 60th Troop Command, headquartered in Little Washington, N.C., was the conduit. It commanded and controlled the RRF and 42nd CST and exercised its abilities during PD11.

Soldiers, whether training, coordinating with other agencies or evaluating their internal procedures, had positive attitudes during PD11.

“This has been a lot of good training,” Wallace said, “The Soldiers have been very motivated and professional in their support to MOTSU.”

Page last updated Mon June 20th, 2011 at 00:00