JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Virginia – Soldiers from the U.S. military’s premier all hazards command trained to respond to an improvised nuclear device detonation during Exercise Sudden Response, Jan. 21 – 27.
Highly specialized teams from the 20th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives (CBRNE) Command participated in the Defense CBRN Response Force exercise designed to hone their skills for domestic response missions.
Weapons of Mass Destruction Coordination Team 3 served as a multi-component team in support of Joint Task Force-Civil Support. Assisting as observers, coaches and trainers, WCT 2 validated WCT 3 on mission essential tasks and CBRN analysis support for the task force.
“This analysis enabled Joint Task Force-Civil Support to execute a Defense Support of Civil Authorities mission during an improvised nuclear devise detonation on the homeland,” said Maj. Steven P. Buhler, a nuclear operations officer from WCT 2. A 14-year U.S. Army veteran from Vernal, Utah, Buhler has deployed to Kuwait and Iraq.
WCTs provide combatant commanders, lead federal agencies and supported commanders with specialized support and subject matter expertise for overseas and stateside CBRNE and counter-improvised explosive device operations, accidents and incidents.
The teams are part of the Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland-headquartered 20th CBRNE Command, the U.S. Department of Defense’s only multifunctional all hazards headquarters.
In addition to five WCTs, the deployable command is home to 75 percent of the Active Duty U.S. Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal technicians and Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Specialists, as well as the 1st Area Medical Laboratory, CBRNE Analytical and Remediation Activity and three Nuclear Disablement Teams.
Joint Task Force-Civil Support holds the exercise annually. This year, Sudden Response took place on Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia; Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington; Fort Stewart, Georgia; and Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
As a part of U.S. Northern Command, JTF-CS commands and controls the Defense CBRN Response Force in support of civil authorities. More than 5,200 personnel serve in the DCRF, which is able to respond to CBRN incidents across the nation.
In addition to 20th CBRNE Command, DCRF units came from U.S. Army North, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute, Air Force Radiation Assessment Team, South Carolina National Guard, Georgia National Guard, Mississippi National Guard and various state hazard response forces for Exercise Sudden Response 2022.
“We integrate into the Joint Task Force-Civil Support staff during the exercise, which allows us to form the core of the JTF-CS CBRN Analysis Cell and cultivate relationships with staff,” said Maj. Ginger G. Hammerquist, the detachment officer-in-charge from WCT 3.
WCT 3 leveraged more than six decades of combined active duty and reserve experience during the exercise.
Other WCT 3 members included Capt. Shawn P. Powell from Columbia, Tennessee; Capt. Zachary D. Hildreth from Yorktown, Virginia; Staff Sgt. Tarell D. Sangster from Odenton, Maryland; and Sgt. Corey C. Groholski from Aberdeen, Maryland.
A native of Bel Air, Maryland, Hammerquist has deployed to Kuwait and Iraq. She said the exercise prepared WCT 3 to better support domestic response missions.
“Exercise Sudden Response affords us an opportunity to establish relationships, familiarity and experience with Joint Task Force-Civil Support, so we are better prepared to support in the event an incident happens for real,” said Hammerquist.