Smoke billows from the burning debris of what once was Cincinnati, Ohio, remnants of a 10-kiloton nuclear blast. Survivors lay wounded and dying. Mass panic and chaos engulfs the city.

It was under this scenario that U.S. Army North's Vibrant Response Exercise was conducted at the Atterbury-Muscatatuck Complex located near Butlerville in south central Indiana, Aug. 18-26.

Vibrant Response is an annual training event that helps prepare federal and state forces to respond when needed, said Lt. Col. Tom Bright, chief of exercises for U.S. Army North.

The Expeditionary Contracting Command's 904th Contingency Contracting Battalion at Fort Knox, Ky., part of the 412th Contracting Support Brigade at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, provided support to the 167th Theater Support Command.

According to Col. Jeff Morris, commander, 412th CSB, a two-man team of contracting support officers were deployed to help the 167th TSC work through what requirements are needed to support local authorities under such a scenario and how we would fulfill those requirements using Army Contracting Command assets.

The 904th CCBn commander, Lt. Col. Jeffery Phillips, said that the team provided advice and counsel on contracting procedures as well as training on contract requirement preparation.

"They guided the TSC staff in the joint acquisition review board process," he said. "This is designed to de-conflict and optimize acquisition of essential support and services using the Defense Logistics Agency, the Army Corps of Engineers for construction and directing local base
installation contracting."

Phillips added that this kind of on-site support provides organizations such as the TSC with a flexible capability to support local authorities.

"The timing of our interaction with the TSC was perfect because immediately following the exercise, the task force left Camp Atterbury to support Hurricane Irene operations," he said. "The 412th has responded and is on site to support but this time for a real world contingency at Fort Dix."

"We have in excess of 6,000 personnel trained. The federal and National Guard response to a potential CBRN (Chemical, Biological Radiological/Nuclear) event is America's insurance policy," he explained.

"If that response is the insurance policy, then the exercise, Vibrant Response, is the underwriting of that policy," he added. "It is what ensures that federal and state forces are prepared to respond when America needs us."

The exercise drew units from across the services with a variety of specialties. Chemical units tested for radioactive fallout and setup decontamination areas for the simulated casualties. Medical personnel treated and evacuated casualties. Engineer companies performed route
clearance, removing debris and freeing blocked roadways.