By Staff Sgt. Heather Denby, Fort Leonard WoodAugust 22, 2013
Soldiers of the 4th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade returned home after a weeklong training exercise focusing on national disaster response Aug. 11 to Sunday around Camp Atterbury, Ind.
"I couldn't be prouder of the work we've accomplished here and the great Soldiers, Airmen, Sailors and Marines that have operated under this command during our time together," said Col. James Reckard, 4th MEB commander. "We've got a lot to be proud of, each of us should feel confident in walking with their heads held high and their chests pushed out."
Reckard said that the Vibrant Response training exercise provided an excellent opportunity to test the unit's capability to assume the Defense Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Response Force mission.
The DCRF consists of about 5,200 personnel including all branches of military service and civilians from active-duty and reserve units. The DCRF is a modifiable force that is part of a larger collaborative response capability between local, state, tribal and federal agencies under Joint Task Force-Civil Support.
During the exercise, DCRF personnel received mission assignments from a civilian incident commander to support disaster recovery efforts by providing search and recovery, technical rescue, mass casualty decontamination as well as other life saving measures.
"I think the second most important part that came out of this exercise, other than the ability to actually work alongside the other units that would respond to a catastrophic disaster, is the realism of the training scenarios here," said Tech. Sgt. Samuel Ortiz, a surveillance supervisor with the Air Force Radiation Assessment Team out of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.
Ortiz responded to the Tomadachi tsunami in Japan that occurred in 2011.
"I can't imagine what kind of impact this would have personally on someone living in a disaster-stricken area where a federal response was needed," Ortiz said. "This exercise provided me with the assurance that we can answer our Nation's call for help, but ultimately, I just hope it never happens."
Monitoring the response of 4th MEB Soldiers and other personnel assigned to Task Force Operations was Operations Group Foxtrot out of Fort Leavenworth, Kan.
The group of more than a dozen military personnel that have been selected to observe and provide feedback based on their performance and experience in their occupational specialty to train units that are preparing to assume a mission.
"It's our pleasure to come out and do these type of training exercises," said Lt. Col. Tom Haurwas, Operations Group Foxtrot observer/trainer. "This unit has gotten farther than we've ever seen before in terms of the amount of things a response force needs to accomplish."
Following the exercise, participants of Vibrant Response will continue to confirm their readiness by conducting emergency deployment response exercises as well as administrative readiness processing.
The 4th MEB is slated to assume the DCRF mission later this year.