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Soldiers make final preparations for Vibrant Response 13

Monday, October 01, 2012

United States Army North conducted the largest confirmation exercise to date for 9,000 members of the Defense Department’s chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) response force in and around Camp Atterbury, Ind.

Exercise Vibrant Response 2013 began July 25 and confirmed the ability of the three dedicated federal military task forces to organize and employ life-saving and life-sustaining capabilities following a catastrophic CBRN incident.

The rigorous exercise used 11 training areas and airfields spread across 5,000 square miles in southern Indiana and northern Kentucky.

During the 19-day training window, Army North conducted 200 live events at 50 venues and an additional 250 events occurred within a dynamic, computer-simulated environment, Army officials said.

"We [had] 350 medical mannequins and 300 civilian role-players portraying injured residents," Al Garcia, Army North’s training directorate, said.

Adding, "Along with damaged buildings, rubble piles, wrecked vehicles, smoke and flame effects, they created an incredibly realistic environment for training."

This is the first confirmation exercise for Joint Task Force – Guardian, which was created as part of a two-year long transformation of the military’s homeland CBRN Response Enterprise.

This force, comprised of National Guard units from Alabama and Florida, conducted the largest domestic convoy in its history when traveling to the exercise on Aug. 5 to 6.

Also training during Vibrant Response 13 were two other response forces, commanded by Army North’s Joint Task Force – Civil Support, based at Fort Eustis, Va., and Task Force 51, based at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. All told, units from 25 states and Puerto Rico are training in the event.

A number of state and federal agencies also participated, including various National Guard units and teams from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the National Technical Nuclear Forensics Task Force.

The Defense Department began transforming the nation’s military CBRN response force in 2010 in order to bring more life-saving and life-sustaining capabilities more rapidly to assist civil authorities in responding to a catastrophic incident.

Beginning in 2010, Army North, as the Army component of U.S. Northern Command, analyzed the existing federal response forces and proposed a structure that increased critical assets such as aviation, medical, engineering, logistics and decontamination capabilities – in some cases, adding three- to five-times more capability.

Various National Guard elements were also created during the transformation.

Nine additional CBRN Enhanced Response Force Packages and 10 Homeland Response Forces were located in regions throughout the United States in order to arrive more rapidly with critical life-saving capabilities.

Some of these forces also trained during Vibrant Response 13.

Army North began the Vibrant Response series of exercises in 2008.

Planning and conducting the exercise is part of the command’s mission to train the nation’s military CBRN response capability.

The 850 training support personnel have more than 1,500 years of combined experience, Daryl Kinman, of Army North’s training directorate, said.

"These are subject-matter experts, scripters, trainers and advisors, who come from a range of public, military and corporate organizations involved in consequence management at all levels – local, state and federal," Kinman said.

In support of Vibrant Response 13, Army North coordinated a large movement of equipment and personnel.

This included 68 military chartered flights and the movement of more than 2,200 pieces of equipment (100,000 short tons), comprising approximately 1,000 ground vehicles, 30 helicopters and 950 truckloads of equipment.