Guard Bolsters Homeland Response Capabilities
By Air Force Tech. Sgt. John Orrell
National Guard Bureau
ARLINGTON, Va., Oct. 5, 2010 The National Guard has added a homeland response force package to its current chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high-yield explosive response capabilities, which will help to provide a more robust response to any homeland incident, a National Guard Bureau official said today.
Alabama National Guardsmen and Marines from the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit are decontaminated during a joint training exercise at Camp Buehring, Kuwait, Sept. 3, 2010. U.S. Army photo by Spc. Matthew H. Oda
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
“This will allow us to save lives and mitigate human suffering as rapidly as possible,” said Air Force Col. Tim Cathcart, chief of the National Guard Bureau’s joint training and education division.
The National Guard’s current CBRNE enhanced response force package mission has 17 teams of 186 people each throughout the country providing a quick-response capability for an incident involving weapons of mass destruction, Cathcart said. When activated, they initiate search and extraction from collapsed buildings, conduct victim decontamination, perform medical triage and transport victims to stabilization facilities, where doctors will treat victims before they are moved to a hospital or designated medical facility, he said.
The purpose of the homeland response force mission is to create a bigger force providing command and control of multiple CERFPs, weapons-of-mass-destruction civil support teams and other Guard assets during an incident.
“A HRF is built around a CERFP with some additional forces, which makes the total number of people activated for a mission like this to 566,” Cathcart said. “You take the original 186 from the CERFP mission and add in force protection and a command-and-control capability, making sure everyone is integrated, knows what the mission is and maintains situational awareness of the incident.”
Ten HRFs, one in each Federal Emergency Management Agency region, will stand up by Oct. 1, 2012.
The homeland response force mission also has a joint focus, Cathcart noted, which allows those involved to learn from each other, work better, exercise better and feel more comfortable with the capabilities and assets, Cathcart added.
Cathcart said the National Guard Bureau works closely with its partners at U.S. Northern Command, U.S. Army North, the Joint Interagency Training and Education Center at Charleston, W.Va., and the Marine Corps.
“This creates an integrated Department of Defense CBRNE response construct where we share training and a similar understanding of the task and conditions that we are going to perform and at the same standards,” he said.
The goal is to allow both National Guard and active duty forces a faster response time over a wider area of coverage, because everyone will be moving at the same rate with the same plan, he said.
“It will help mitigate any redundancy or confusion during an actual response, allowing us to do a better job at working together as a team, because we have been training and planning for operating the same way we would be in that kind of environment,” Cathcart explained. “It’s going to make things simpler for us to make sure we’re providing a better response to the nation because we’ve practiced and trained to similar standards.”