FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. - U.S. Army North's Task Force 51 arrived at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., July 31 for Vibrant Response 2009.
The exercise will focus primarily on responding to chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high-yield explosive incidents and is designed to confirm the readiness and abilities of incoming units that will fall under the CBRNE Consequence Management Response Force effective Oct. 1.
The 167th Theater Support Command, an Alabama National Guard unit based out of Fort McClellan, Ala., welcomed Operational Command Post 1 upon its arrival with a series of informative inprocessing briefings.
After inprocessing, the task force began to receive more than 50 individual augmentees from all military services.
"Before, I didn't have a grasp on all of the acronyms and job titles in a joint environment like this, but the welcome brief from the 167th TSC and the welcome brief from U.S. Army North helped out a lot," said Air Force Senior Airman Eric Villafranca, a weather forecaster from the 111th Weather Flight, which is an Air Force Reserve unit based out of Houston.
Service members augmenting the task force, such as Villafranca, turned the Operational Command Post into a command and control unit of more than 200 servicemembers and civilians, making the U.S. Army North unit a true Joint Task Force.
"Working in a joint-force environment can prove to be challenging, especially in a scenario where you are not just working with one or two services but all of them, including several civilian agencies," said Navy Lt. Jason Rinton, force protection planning officer, U.S. Northern Command, based out of Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colo.
The civilian agencies will not be participating in the exercise. However, if a real-world catastrophe were to occur, Joint Task Force 51 would work with multiple civilian agencies, to include the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
During Vibrant Response, U.S. Army North will play its part as the Army Service Component and Joint Force Land Component Command for U.S. Northern Command.
U.S. Army North is charged with coordinating the federal military response in the land domain for domestic operations or disasters, to include CBRNE.
The exercise will also provide Task Force 51 the opportunity to deploy the Command Post of the Future command and control system for the first time.
The CPOF is a system that provides an in-depth overview of a unit's operating area and provides commanders a better assessment of what their capabilities are and what their subordinate units are doing.
"This system should make the task force's overview of the operating area easier," said Staff Sgt. Anthony Volino, operations noncommissioned officer, Operational Command Post 1, U.S. Army North. "It is also giving us the opportunity to get away from using Power Point for our briefing and giving us more freedom to obtain maps and unit capabilities. This will help for smoother operations with subordinate units."
The bulk of the forces to fall under the CCMRF include the 218th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, an Army National Guard unit out of South Carolina; the 330th Medical Brigade, an Army Reserve unit out of Fort Sheridan, Ill.; and the 11th Theater Aviation Command, which is a mix of Regular Army and Army Reserve units based out of multiple installations across the United States.
Overall, forces to be trained and confirmed for the CCMRF mission include 64 different elements from different services across 14 different states.
"This exercise will bring us more in-depth on how everyone works together and replies to each other," said Rinton. "Communication is key, and Vibrant Response is going to provide a better understanding of how all of the services need to work together - and how all the services need to work with civilian agencies in this type of environment with this type of mission."