By Lt. Col. Robert Roy, 407th Army Field Support BrigadeDecember 8, 2008
A 10-kiloton nuclear device detonates on American soil killing an estimated 100,000 people. It is the first major attack against the United States since the three-pronged terrorist attack Sept. 11, 2001.
First responders are on the scene but are overwhelmed and request federal intervention.
Such was the doom and gloom scenario during a command post exercise conducted at Fort Stewart, Ga., in mid-September. The exercise was dubbed Exercise Vibrant Response and was the first exercise of its kind for CCMRF -- CBRNE Consequence Management Response Force. CBRNE means chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and high yield explosives.
The CCMRF became operational as of Oct. 1.
To put this catastrophe into perspective, the nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima to help end World War II, was the blast equivalent of about 13-kilotons of TNT. An estimated 140,000 people - mainly civilian -- immediately were killed with subsequent deaths in the thousands from wounds or illness from radiation exposure.
This exercise at Fort Stewart showed how the rescue and recover response to the incident immediately overwhelmed local and state authorities. This led to a request for assistance from the state governor to the president of the United States for Department of Defense support.
To prepare for such an event, U.S. Army North has been preparing for this mission for nearly a year.
It is through this request that Northern Command and U.S. Army North assumed the mission to assist first responders. Helping out was the 407th Army Field Support Brigade, headquartered out of Fort Hood, Texas. The 407th AFSB falls under the Army Sustainment Command, which is part of the Army Materiel Command.
Any CONUS AFSB should plan to have its forces assist with such a major disaster within the lower 48 states. Services needed from ASC included:
Aca,!Ac Request for information for the location and qualities of equipment which could be used to assist Title 10 forces performing the recovery mission, i.e., water purification and water distribution equipment.
Title 10 refers to the U.S. Code -- Title 10 -- under which the Active Army and Army Reserve are organized. The National Guard is organized under Title 32 of the U.S. code.
Aca,!Ac Request for pulling equipment out of pre-positioned stocks to support the recovery, i.e., Force Provider sets.
Aca,!Ac Request For Forces -- Army Field Support Bridge, Logistics Support Element or Brigade Logistics Support Teams -- to provide assistance and reach back to the Life Cycle Management Command support of Title 10 forces assigned the CCMRF mission.
Aca,!Ac Request For Forces -- Contracting Support Bridge to provide contingency contracting to support Title 10 forces.
Aca,!Ac And, request for LOGCAP services for supporting Title 10 forces.
The CCMRF is a top priority of Gen. George Casey, Army chief of staff. Casey attended the exercise Sept.14 to see firsthand how personnel would perform.
The exercise involved approximately 1,000 military and civilians from different Army commands, which have been assigned the CCMRF mission.
The Army units receiving the training came from 1st Battalion-3rd Brigade Combat Team, Fort Stewart; 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, Fort Bragg, N.C.; and 1st Medical Brigade, Fort Hood, Texas. These units along with other units from the Air Force and Marines make up the initial capability of the CCMRF.
The units are assigned the CCMRF mission from Oct. 1 through the next 12 months. By fiscal year 2011, when the CCMRF is fully operationally capable, there will be 12,000 troops assigned the CCMRF mission and will be both joint and multi-component -- Soldiers with the active component, Reserve and National Guard.
Two weeks before the CCMRF, these units were assigned to U.S. Northern Command to begin the CCMRF mission in the Continental United States.
U.S. Army North (the Joint Forces Land Component Command) conducted the exercise, while its subordinate command, Joint Task Force Civil Support, provided command and control for the CCMRF.
Joint Task Force Civil Support (JTF-CS) is based at Fort Monroe, Va. Since its inception in 1999, JTF-CS plans, trains, and develops policy for Department of Defense CBRNE response.
Responding to a CBRNE incident in CONUS is challenging because it is "no-notice" event leaving units with virtually no time to prepare. Units must deploy quickly to the incident site and be ready for its consequence management missions with both its personnel and equipment.
Hence, developing capability to deploy upon notification and succeed is a priority for forces assigned to the CCMRF.
The CCMRF is task organized into three task forces - Operations, Medical and Aviation. Each task force is designed to perform a specific mission in response to the incident.
The Army plans to conduct such an exercise annually.
(Editor's note: Lt. Col. Robert Roy is the 407th Army Field Support Brigade's Liaison Officer at U. S. Army North headquarters, Fort Sam Houston, Texas.)