Sunday, October 12, 2008

U.S. Northern Command gains dedicated response force

Editor Blog Note: For my HF ALE friends, here is a new challenge for us to monitor.

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- For the first time in its existence, U.S. Northern Command is gaining a dedicated force to respond to potential chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high-yield explosive (CBRNE) incidents in the homeland.

"We are now building the first of three CBRNE Consequence Management Response Forces," said USNORTHCOM Commander Gen. Gene Renuart. "On the first of October, we’ll have an organized force, a trained force, an equipped force, a force that has adequate command and control and is on quick response – 48 hours – to head off to a large-scale nuclear, chemical, biological event that might require Department of Defense support."

The CBRNE Consequence Management Response Force, or CCMRF, is a team of about 4,700 joint personnel that would deploy as the Department of Defense’s initial response force for a CBRNE incident. Its capabilities include search and rescue, decontamination, medical, aviation, communications and logistical support.

Each CCMRF will be composed of three functional task forces – Task Force Operations, Task Force Medical and Task Force Aviation – that have their own individual operational focus and set of mission skills. Depending on the different mission requirements and the incident commander’s priorities, Task Force Operations, Task Force Medical and Task Force Aviation units would have varying roles and responsibilities based upon the type of catastrophe and the size of the geographical area. In USNORTHCOM’s first CCMRF, the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team, assigned at Fort Stewart, Ga., will form the core unit of Task Force Operations.

Although CCMRFs are a joint force comprised of Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines, the first CCMRF will fall under the operational control of USNORTHCOM’s Joint Force Land Component Command, U.S. Army North, located in San Antonio, Texas. Joint Task Force Civil Support, USNORTHCOM’s subordinate command in Fort Monroe, Va., would serve as the operational headquarters and work closely with state and local officials and first responders.

“U.S. Army North has done an outstanding job anticipating the needs of our federal, state and local partners, and training the CCMRF to be prepared to respond when called upon,” said Army Col. Michael Boatner, USNORTHCOM future operations division chief.

“We’re excited about obtaining a ready and capable team that we can quickly activate and deploy as part of a federal response package when responding in the aftermath of catastrophic events,” Boatner said. “This response force will not be called upon to help with law enforcement, civil disturbance or crowd control, but will be used to support lead agencies involved in saving lives, relieving suffering and meeting the needs of communities affected by weapons of mass destruction attacks, accidents or even natural disasters.”

USNORTHCOM is the joint combatant command formed in the wake of the Sept.11, 2001, terrorist attacks to provide homeland defense and defense support of civil authorities.