FORT STEWART, Ga. - Tents were setup in a distinct pattern, several people wearing chemical suits escorted individuals through the tents to get decontaminated. Everyone was calm and going through the steps they were trained to do.
Don't worry; this was only a field exercise to assess the proficiency of battalions and companies from the 4th Movement Enhancement Brigade, or Task Force Operations, based out of Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.
Exercise Dauntless Resolve, held here from March 3-13, 2014, also trained response task forces to respond to a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear incident in order to save lives and prevent suffering in support of civil authorities.
The purpose of the exercise is to test the ability of Task Force Operations to respond to a complex catastrophic incident in a major metropolitan city.
This year's Dauntless Resolve was a simulated 10-Kiloton improvised nuclear detonation in Atlanta.
4th MEB is on rotation this year to Joint Task Force Civil Support as Task Force Operations, taking over from 1st MEB, based out of Fort Polk, La., in 2013. Task Force Operations is one component of JTF-CS' Defense CBRN Response Force based out of Fort Eustis, Va. Task Force Medical, Task Force Aviation and Task Force Logistics also comprise the DCRF supporting JTF-CS.
"This [exercise] is a new initiative led by Task Force Operations," said Army Col. James F. Reckard III, commander, 4th MEB. "There was a training gap waiting for Vibrant Response every year."
Vibrant Response is an annual field exercise, and the largest Department of Defense's confirmation exercise for specialized response forces designed to validate their capability to execute mission command, perform technical tasks in CBRN and conduct other life-saving missions.
Dauntless Resolve is a Task Force Operations specific exercise bringing together 600 people, representing a sample of 3,000 military personnel and civilians from 26 task force installations, said Reckard.
Soldiers, Sailors and Marines from the 11th Engineer Battalion, 385th Military Police Battalion, 83rd Chemical Battalion, 193rd Brigade Support Battalion and the Chemical Biological Incident Response Force, worked together supporting the lead federal agency to save lives, mitigate suffering and increase a return to normalcy.
"This was an opportunity to do collective training at the battalion and company level," said Reckard.
CBIRF Marines, based out of Indian Head, Md., is the only Marine unit supporting JTF-CS. Eighteen Marines and four Navy Corpsmen assisted Task Force Operations through agent detection and identification; casualty search, rescue and personnel decontamination and emergency medical care and stabilization of contaminated personnel.
"The (Identification Platoon) identifies and detects chemicals and radiation before any units in the task force go into the area, by getting samples and aerial radiation surveying," said Marine Sgt. Joshua Barkley, noncommissioned officer with the IDP of CBIRF.
If a real incident were to occur, the Marines and Army have a better understanding of how each branch works.
"This exercise allows my Marines to integrate with the Army and gets us an inside view of the Tactics, Techniques and Positions used by the Soldiers," said Marine Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jacob Carpenter, officer in charge of CBIRF. "We all do [detection and decontamination] differently. It's nice to see it all come together."
This sentiment was also expressed by Marine Master Sgt. Teodoro Garcia, the staff noncommissioned officer in charge of CBIRF.
"[Dauntless Resolve] bridges the communication gap between Marines and Soldiers. We use different terminology and acronyms than the Army," said Garcia.
Other units supporting Task Force Operations in the DCRF included the 550th Area Support Medical Company and the 690th Medical Company. The units are a part of the 44th Medical Brigade; however, the brigade is not on mission this year.
"This is good training taking place. There is no way to replicate this [type of training] in garrison," said Army Col. Jeff Johnson, commander of the 44th Medical Brigade, who was supporting his subordinate units.
As the command and control node of Task Force Operations, JTF-CS was also there as observer controllers/trainers.
"We were there observing exercise the and mentoring [medical] units to meet their objectives," said Navy Cmdr. Maryann Mattonen, chief of medical plans and operations at JTF-CS.
Mattonen and Navy Lt. Cmdr. Craig Knott, chief of medical operations at JTF-CS, both said the 550th ASMC and 690th Medical Company did very well.
"Lessons were learned over the exercise," said Mattonen. "The ASMC and ENG Battalion improved coordination between each other."
Reckard expressed similar sentiments.
"The training went exceptionally well," said Reckard. "I am extremely proud of the Soldiers, Marines and Sailors have done an exception job out here."
Reckard also was extremely appreciative of the 3rd Infantry Division for making this exercise a reality.
Task Force Operations intends to host this exercise every year.