By Capt. Chad ElstonApril 6, 2016
This was the scenario Soldiers of the 2nd Battalion "Lobos", 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Air Cavalry Division dealt with during this year's Defense Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear Response Force exercise at The Joint Readiness Training Center here.
"The training scenario and the air mission request nuances were realistic and challenging," said Maj. Ashley Lee, 2nd Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment executive officer.
The DCRF exercise gave Lobos leaders and Soldiers an opportunity to finalize their tactics, techniques and procedures along with validating their DCRF standard operating procedures. It also gave them a chance to align those best practices with adjacent units and its higher command, the 36th Engineer Brigade also from Fort Hood.
This JRTC exercise was conducted to ensure all elements involved in the DCRF mission were trained and ready to accomplish any mission given by U.S. North Command.
For many units this was the first time they had the opportunity to work face to face in a DCRF environment.
"Having to distinguish between acceptable and unacceptable cargo, and managing a hostile, hungry and thirsty group of local populace outside of an airfield gate, troopers and leaders across our task force received training that gave them confidence in our capabilities and the special rules of use of force," said Lee.
During the DCRF exercise at JRTC, Task Force Aviation supported over 2,500 military personnel from all branches of service, including active, guard and reserve units from throughout the United States.
"When we arrived at the JRTC," Lee said. "We had to be flexible and adaptive to the requirements and requests of the civilian agencies who were operating on a 12-hour planning cycle."
TF Aviation provided rotary wing aviation capabilities that included search and rescue, casualty and medical evacuation, personnel and logistical air transportation and aerial assessment. Lobos Soldiers also managed aviation support to battalion task force operations and external support operations with government agencies like FEMA and Department of Homeland Security.
"We help provide support to move equipment to the [Mass Decontamination] MCD lines and 911 type emergencies," said Lt. Col. Jenness Steel, 2nd Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment commander. "We also provided hoist operations, which civilian agencies are unable to prove and provide the ability for individuals to see the affected areas."
The exercise also gave leaders and Soldiers a chance to do things that normally they don't do at Fort Hood or even deployed.
"At Fort Hood we wouldn't normally move civilian agencies that aren't government agencies around the incident area," Steel said.
This gave them the opportunity to work out their procedures for the approval process, she said.
Following JRTC there will be one additional exercise, Vibrant Response 16, which starts the last week of April and ends mid-May. Vibrant Response is directed by U.S. Northern Command and executed by U.S. Army North with Joint Task Force-Civil Support. Upon completion of the exercise they will be ready to assume the DCRF mission June 1.
"VR16 will allow the unit to continue to build and hone our skills in the civilian based command systems required in support of the civilian agencies," said Steel. "The most important aspect of our training during VR 16 will be the refinement in our mission planning and cycles."