By Mr. Mark D Henry (AMC)December 12, 2016
RICHMOND, KY -- As one of the final chemical weapon surety sites in the United States, each September, Blue Grass Army Depot (BGAD) personnel join with personnel from tenant organization Blue Grass Chemical Activity (BGCA), as well as multiple national, state, regional and local emergency management agencies to conduct a comprehensive Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness readiness test, better known as a CSEPP exercise.
Least among the multitude of readiness tests conducted to measure responses and capabilities, is the absolute lock-down security readiness of the Depot, and in particular, an area within the Depot known as the CLA or the Chemical Limited Area. The CLA is where the chemical weapons are secured within earthen-covered munitions bunkers, multiple fence layers topped with razor wire, and armed security personnel with serious attitude.
As a chemical surety site, BGAD always maintains a large, trained and experienced security force, but when it comes to chemical weapons, you can never have enough security should an actual chemical accident or incident happen.
As a matter of Army and FORSCOM policy, security augmentation forces from nearby installations are assigned to ensure the security of critical national facilities and related materials. For BGAD, that augmentation force is the Army's elite and specialized light infantry division known to many as the "Screaming Eagles" and recognized by all as the 101st Airborne Division out of Ft. Campbell, Ky.
"It may be geographical luck," says BGAD Commander Colonel Norbert Fochs, "but regardless, I can speak for all the nearly 2,000 personnel across multiple organizations who work on the Depot that we are honored and proud that the 101st has our backs when it comes to security. This was the first time since 9/11 that the 101st has deployed to BGAD and we were very pleased they spent a week on site directly supporting our CSEPP exercise as well as completing additional unit training requirements."
The deployment of the 101st to BGAD was an Emergency Deployment Readiness Exercise (EDRE), resulting from new training guidance issued early in the year by Army Chief of Staff General Mark Milley to achieve and ensure higher levels of readiness.
The EDRE exercise planning and execution involved FORSCOM, Corps and Divisional staffs as well as an on-site visit during the CSEPP exercise by BG Richard Dix, CG of the Joint Munitions Command (JMC) and the Senior Response Force Commander during emergency situations. General Dix took time to meet and talk with Soldiers of the 101st 3rd Platoon at the Depot's firing range.
While on site, the 101st Soldiers trained on security exercises for two days prior to and after the CSEPP that included securing access control points, water treatment plants, firing range practice, quick reaction force training, and of course chemical limited area training.
According to SFC Andrew Dickson, who co-manages the Military Affairs Training Program at BGAD, "For the visit by the 101st, we coordinated closely with FORSCOM and the 18the Airborne Corps in establishing preferred training dates and setting up scenarios that would achieve maximum training value. The entire week, which was a test of Depot and 101st joint leadership, was also great for the Soldiers in that instead of staying on post, they got out onto new land, saw new maps, met new personnel and had the opportunity to work with government civilians. It was a big deal to them as well as to the Depot leadership and workforce."