By Spc. Aaron CarpenterApril 15, 2009
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (Army News Service, April 15, 2009) -- The Combined Joint Task Force for the Elimination of Weapons of Mass Destruction helped reinforce the strategic United States-Republic of Korea relationship during the annual combined training event, Key Resolve, March 9-19.
During Key Resolve and the combined Field Training Exercise Foal Eagle, the CJTF-E and the ROK Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Defense Command demonstrated their war fighting capabilities against a simulated threat that had invaded and attacked Korea and other nations with hundreds of WMD.
The JTF-E was created when the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review tasked the Army to expand the mission of the 20th Support Command (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and High Yield Explosives) to become a JTF headquarters capable of rapid deployment to command and control WMD elimination operations.
The JTF-E consists of U.S. Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines. When combined with their ROK counterparts it constitutes the CJTF-E. The CJTF-E not only has ROK units within its force structure, but also integrates members of the ROK military into its headquarters and staff.
"It is interesting to be training here in the Republic of Korea now," said Brig. Gen. Jeffrey J. Snow, CJTF-E commander. "This just reinforces how important the CJTF-E's mission is here on the Korean peninsula and helps motivate our servicemembers to train as they would fight."
Snow described the threat North Korean WMDs pose and emphasized the importance of working with the ROK military.
"We are learning a lot from them. We have been studying this threat together and this exercise is a great opportunity for us to share lessons learned," Snow said.
The collective training conducted at KR-09 and FE-09 is an excellent opportunity for the U.S. and ROK WMD elimination forces to share CBRNE tactics, techniques and procedures, he added.
"In fact, the ROK NBC Defense Command has developed a complimentary capability to our CBRNE response teams, perhaps not on the same scale as ours, but able to conduct independent WMD elimination operations or operate in conjunction with the CJTF-E," Snow said.
Navy Capt. Randall A. Neal is the CJTF-E deputy commanding officer and chief of staff of the Joint Elimination Coordination Element. The JECE is a 30-person joint plug of CBRNE experts to the 20th Support Command that enables the organization to form a joint headquarters and provide command and control to a JTF-E conducting counter-CBRNE or WMD operations.
Neal commented on his two-plus years' experience as part of the JTF-E and its evolution since Ulchi Focus Lens 2007 -- JTF-E's previous exercise in Korea.
"The most noticeable difference between UFL-07 and this exercise is that we now have more than 100 additional members of the task force," Neal said. "The Joint Operations Center and most of the staff sections increased their strength and capabilities to plan, command, control, and track WMD elimination operations."
One section that grew is the intelligence and security section which has increased more than four-fold since UFL-07.
"We have several individuals who served in the Multi National Force-Iraq CBRNE cell where they gained invaluable experience doing CBRNE planning, requests for information and orders management," Neal said.
Neal added that constant training is needed to supplement experience.
"What you need is a core group of people that are exercising continuously," he said.
The core team of simulation planners, the "White Cell," were from the JECE, and responsible for the planning of KR-09's scenarios and the development of the CJTF-E as a whole.
"This training exercise has been invaluable to the development of CJTF-E and its integration into CFC," said Snow. "We've come a long way and I believe we proved our value as enablers for other component commanders here at KR-09. Now the key is taking these lessons learned back to the U.S. and continuing the forward progress toward full operational capability, which we hope to validate this year."
(Spc. Aaron Carpenter writes for CJTF-E Public Affairs Office)