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Newsletter 10-16
December 2009

First Brigade Third Infantry Division as the Inaugural Task Force Operations for the 2009 Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and High-Yield Explosives Consequence Management Response Force

by COL Roger Cloutier, TF-OPS Commander; MAJ (P) Jason Garkey, TF-OPS Operations Officer; MAJ Marc Bouth, TF-OPS Chief of Operations; MAJ Steve Ranieri, TF-OPS Legal Advisor; and CPT Erik Gemza, TF-OPS Provost Marshal

Introduction

While Soldiers of the First Heavy Brigade Combat Team, Third Infantry Division (1-3 HBCT or "Raider" Brigade) were patrolling the Ramadi streets in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom V, the news broke that, upon redeployment, their unit would become assigned as Task Force Operations for the Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear and High-yield Explosive (CBRNE) Consequence Management Response Force (CCMRF). The CCMRF has been staffed with an active duty force since 2002. 1-3 HBCT was the first "assigned" TF Operations (as opposed to "allocated").The brigade was placed on the "patch chart" as an assigned brigade and was regenerated to deployment strength in personnel and critical equipment within six months from a CENTCOM redeployment. It appeared that the unit would be assigned to U.S. Northern Command for twelve months. The dwell time at Fort Stewart would be longer than usual, for the unit had to be ready to deploy inside the United States to help mitigate the catastrophic results of possible man made or natural disasters.

Graphic showing Members of 3rd Battalion 69th Armored Regiment practice search and rescue operations in a gas chamber

Members of 3rd Battalion 69th Armored Regiment practice search and rescue operations in a gas chamber during a mission readiness exercise at Ft. Stewart, GA on 16 September 2008.

This article will shed some light on how 1-3 HBCT assumed and executed the mission and what lessons we learned. Before entering into details, it is clear that this exercise in readiness above all gave a tremendous sense of pride and belonging to our Soldiers. After being deployed multiple times, this homeland mission refocused our Soldiers from an Iraq mission to aiding their fellow Americans in the event of an attack on the homeland. The instant mind shift, necessary to prepare for mission assumption six months after getting home, also aided in decreasing discipline issues across the formation. Train-up and lane training allowed 1-3 HBCT to develop and practice systems sooner than any other Army brigade coming back from theater. The CCMRF mission gave us many advantages. This is the story of how we did it.

The CCMRF Mission

Defining the acronyms: JTF-CS, CCMRF and TF OPS

In 1999 the Department of Defense (DOD) changed the way it was going to provide support to local and state agencies in cases of domestic terrorist attacks or natural disasters. Lessons learned from military support to such events as Hurricane Andrew and the Atlanta Olympics showed that any large event would quickly overwhelm the civilian infrastructure and local first responders. The Nunn-Lugar-Dominici legislation provided the appropriate Congressional mandate. As a result, Joint Task Force-Civil Support (JTF-CS) was established.

Located at Fort Monroe (VA), JTF-CS is a standing two-star command that plans and coordinates chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high yield Explosive (CBRNE) military consequence management support to the primary agency, most likely the Department of Homeland Security (Federal Emergency Management Agency). Its mission is to provide command and control for all DOD units deployed in support of the National Response Plan. JTF-CS accomplishes its consequence management mission in strict adherence with the principles of the Constitution and public law. Deployment of JTF-CS, at the direction of the Commander of U.S. Northern Command, and on the authority of the Secretary of Defense, would occur only after a Governor requests federal assistance from the President, and after the President issues a Presidential Disaster Declaration. In any domestic setting, JTF-CS remains in support of the Primary Federal Agency (PFA) throughout the CBRNE consequence management operation. The JTF-CS staff consists of active and reserve component military from all five services, government service personnel, and civilian contractors. Commanded by an Army National Guard major general, it is the first civil support standing headquarters to operate with dedicated subordinate active duty task forces in the event of a CBRNE event.

Graphic showing US Northcom Command Levels

Down trace units for JTF-CS are organized in three O-6 level commands: Task Forces Operations (TF-OPS), Medical (TF-MED) and Aviation (TF AVN). On 1 October 2008, the First Heavy Brigade Combat Team, Third Infantry Division (1-3 HBCT), augmented with multiple joint enablers, was designated TF-OPS (TF-OPS 09-01).

TF-OPS 09-01 was prepared to rapidly flow force packages in support of JTF-CS, assisting federal, state, and local authorities responding to the effects of CBRNE incidents. It would focus on mitigating the hazard area and hazard effects; providing consequence management support in the areas surrounding and outside the incident zone, as well as logistics support for the incident site; to the PFA; to the affected population; and for DOD Title 10 Forces conducting CBRNE CM missions.

The threat

The United States faces a continued threat of the use or threatened use of a weapon of mass destruction and terrorist or threatened terrorist CBRNE attacks to the homeland. Unintentional CBRNE releases, whether the result of accidents or natural events, could create similar catastrophic results for civil authorities. As a result, three CCMRF forces with corresponding C2 headquarters will be sourced in the near future.

Graphic showing CBRNE threat spectrum

The above chart shows an analysis of the CBRNE threat spectrum in terms of the greatest threat, the most dangerous threat, and the most likely threat. Contagious biological pathogens, such as smallpox, pose the greatest threat because of the difficulty in containing them. Unlike the other threats, whose occurrence is almost immediately known and the damage readily assessed, the incubation period of biological pathogens enables them to initially go undetected and spread well beyond a limited geographical area. Consequently, the resulting number of casualties can continue to grow at an exponential rate. A nuclear incident is considered to be the most dangerous, in view of the physical destruction and large number of casualties that such an event would produce. An attack involving a high-yield explosive is the most probable. The relative ease with which these weapons can be obtained, as well as the frequency of their use worldwide in the last year, supports this assessment.

Graphic showing Threat assessments were aligned with 5 of the 8 national planning scenario sets, and 11 of the 15 specific national planning scenarios

Threat assessments were aligned with 5 of the 8 national planning scenario sets, and 11 of the 15 specific national planning scenarios.

Transforming 1-3 HBCT(+) to TF-OPS

Lines of effort and the NORTHCOM Response Force (NRF) concept

Following a 15 month surge-deployment, 1-3 HBCT returned from the Iraq theater in April 2008. Six months later, the brigade assumed the CCMRF mission, while it was going through reset and regeneration of equipment. On 1 OCT 09, TF-OPS 09-01 will have relinquished the mission to TF-OPS 10-1, and will conclude its "Go to War" training and deploy within three months.

In order to determine the best type of force available for the CCMRF mission, three lines of effort (CCMRF, equipment reset and regeneration or RESET-REGEN, and Corps Mission Essential Task List or CMETL) were established using the following criteria: command and control, flexibility, preparing for CMETL training designed to meet DEC 09 Latest Arrival Date (LAD).

Graphic showing TF OPS task organization first quarter FY09

Allowing the simultaneous execution of both the CCMRF mission as well as the preparation for 1-3 HBCT's next deployment, the brigade upheld a training rhythm that committed a quarter of its units as a dedicated CBRNE response force, a quarter as a dedicated all-hazard response force and the remaining two quarters focused on regeneration and training battle tasks. Units rotated quarterly, allowing them to focus on CCMRF during half the year, while preparing for the next deployment for the remaining part of the year. The battalion that was ready to deploy in response of a CBRNE-event was called the NORTHCOM Response Force (NRF 1), while the NRF 4 BN was the dedicated all-hazard (non CBRNE) Response Force. The CCMRF was required to self-deploy from Fort Stewart and utilized a battalion-sized element from the NRF 1 or NRF 4 (depending upon the incident) to man critical deployment nodes and ensure all deployment tasks were completed. The NRF 1 or NRF 4 BN were the forces with the highest readiness posture, NRF 2 and NRF 3 BN were follow-on forces. This schedule also allowed Soldiers to be subject to a less restrictive leave policy during the NRF2&3 windows.

Schooling

Prior to mission assumption, Soldier training was executed in individual training lanes. The three focus areas were CBRNE defense, first aid, and communications. A total of 45 major tasks were tested, 32 of which were Army warrior tasks. These tasks were chosen based on FORSCOM training guidance and the probability of executing these tasks during a CCMRF event.

Leaders received additional training, both in the field of CBRNE and Consequence Management. All officers and non-commissioned officers were instructed on the national planning CBRNE scenarios; the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) incident command system training, the employment of CBRNE markers and reporting. Senior leadership attended a five day "Defense in Support of Civil Authorities" (DSCA) course taught by United States Army North, covering the strategic and legal context for Defense Support. Additionally, JTF-CS sponsored a three-day academic session at Ft Stewart, covering a wide variety of civil-support topics prior to the mission readiness exercise.

Capabilities

Early on in our mission analysis, it was clear that the use of a heavy brigade combat team as a support element in a consequence management role would require us to think in "capabilities" rather than in assets available. The challenge for the 1-3 HBCT, the core of task force operations, seemed to be turning combat hardened infantrymen into truck drivers and first responders. The Soldiers and NCOs proved very adaptable and resourceful, learning how to use chain saws and "jaws of life" equipment instead of weapons and explosives.

Graphic showing Soldier uses the jaws of life to extract mock-casualties from a damaged vehicle

An Alpha Co. 1/41 FA Soldier uses the jaws of life to extract mock-casualties from a damaged vehicle at the Raymond M. Downey, Senior Responder Training Facility on 10 December 2008.

Developing the capability to deploy rapidly became a priority. Plans were developed to preposition containers and equipment to deploy ourselves on very short notice. The brigade also began working with the division and the garrison at Fort Stewart to ensure there were mechanisms in place to support a short-notice deployment. Ft Stewart had been a rapid force projection platform prior to 9-11, but the CCMRF mission forced the garrison headquarters to review older procedures and update to accommodate a domestic response mission. Our first alert exercises clearly demonstrated that young Soldiers and junior leaders, although veterans of multiple deployments, did not have experience with alert procedures and needed training in rapid deployment operations. The institutional knowledge and ability to execute an 18-hour deployment sequence did not exist, initially, because of the impacts of multiple CENTCOM deployments for the Raider Brigade.

External enablers, coming from different components, augmented TF OPS abilities with specific technical expertise. The Chemical Biological Incident Response Force (CBIRF), a rapid deployment Marine unit stationed in Maryland, provided an Incident Response Force (IRF) with the ability to conduct agent identification, casualty search and extraction operations and personnel decontamination.

The Air Force was represented with two units: the Air Force Radiological Assessment Team (AFRAT) and the 49th Civil Engineer Squadron (49th CES). AFRAT performs radiological mission planning, health risk assessments; and radiation surveillance operations. They are experts in on-site sample analysis and responder health surveillance through radiation dosimetry. The 49th CES out of New Mexico composed the primary core of TF OPS engineer capabilities with the ability to perform damage assessments, conduct route clearance and construct emergency lodging. Other Army units joined the ranks as well. The 494th Light/Medium truck Company from the 101st Airborne Division augmented our transportation capabilities considerably. Chemical survey and decontamination was provided by 379th Chemical Company, while 31st Biological Integrated Detection System (BIDS) Platoon provided biological detection teams. The 54th Quartermaster Battalion sent us mortuary affairs experts. A 4th PSYOP Group Civilian Assistance Information and Support Element (CAISE) allowed us to conduct public information dissemination activities by producing close to 100,000 colored leaflets per day in support of the lead federal agencies information announcements. These announcements primarily identified relief centers and support locations for affected individuals.

Graphic showing AFRAT in action

AFRAT in action

Graphic showing 379 Chemical Company in action

379 Chemical Company in action

The joint nature of both our higher headquarters and our down trace units forced 1-3 HBCT staff personnel to think and speak outside the typical Army lexicon. Interaction with civilian first responders and lead agencies made us even more aware of the necessity to find a common language. Expressions like "Battle Space" and "Combat Power" became obsolete or were replaced by "Geographical Focus Area" and "Emergency Support Function". Supporting local, state or federal agencies required us to adopt a different operating procedure. Combat leaders, trained to lead from the front, learned the implications of supporting a lead federal agency.

Training the Force

TF OPS participated in six higher-level exercises or workshops; and conducted an additional number of in house training events to validate its ability to rapidly deploy to a disaster site and conduct CBRNE CM operations. Alert message and recall drills were initiated frequently. The selected scenarios covered most of the key scenario sets. The below highlights some of these training events and expands on key lessons learned.

Mission readiness exercise (MRX)

Two weeks before mission assumption TF OPS completed Vibrant Response 09, a weeklong command post exercise designed to train and certify the commanders and staff. U.S. Army North (ARNORTH – 5TH Army) conducted the exercise while it's subordinate, Joint Task Force-Civil Support, provided command and control for the CCMRF units. Headquarters elements of all TF OPS down-trace units were integrated.

The MRX scenario was based on a sobering 10KT nuclear detonation explosion in a major metropolitan city. Massive destruction and uncountable numbers of casualties quickly overwhelmed civilian first responders, which triggered the governor to call for federal assistance. Upon the Presidential emergency declaration, the Secretary of Defense directed NORTHCOM to deploy its assigned forces. During a rock drill attended by Army Chief of Staff, General George W. Casey, Jr., multiple possible FEMA "Requests for Assistance" (RFA) passed review. The exercise provided ample occasions to think about how to move equipment, extract the injured and take care of people following this type of attack. TF OPS had to choose whether to task organize functionally, creating such subordinate task forces like engineering, decontamination, heavy movement, and search and rescue, or to develop multifaceted task forces and assign them geographically. These configurations would likely change based on the type of incident.

TF OPS learned valuable lessons about how to effectively communicate in the joint civil support environment and within the Continental United States (CONUS) limitations for federal forces (Title 10).

The limitations placed on who is allowed to handle human remains decreased Task Force Operations ability to provide assistance following a disaster. The mortuary affairs personnel were capable of handling and processing remains, but were not organized to deal with the quantities of remains that could be expected in a CCMRF scenario. Policy revision leading to more precise guidance was developed during follow-on exercises and conferences.

Emergency deployment readiness exercise (EDRE).

A brigade EDRE was executed quarterly during the first six months of FY 2009. In addition, subordinate units directed battalion level EDREs. Those EDRE were furthermore complemented with weekly alert drills, not necessarily leading to deployments. In an era of persistent conflict, units most often know their deployment dates far in advance of actual deployment. The knowledge from the days of the cold war has rapidly diminished to only senior officers and NCOs. The execution of no-notice exercises ensured that the capability of TF OPS to rapidly deploy via strategic mobility assets remained intact.

Graphic showing A combat engineer Soldier looks through a smoke-filled room for survivors

A combat engineer Soldier looks through a smoke-filled room for "survivors" at the Raymond M. Downey Senior Responder Training Facility on 10 December 2008 during a 1-3 HBCT first CCMRF EDRE.

With RESET being completed in November 08, 1-3 HBCT was able to exercise a complete Command and Control (C2) system multiple times in different Command Post Exercises (CPX). The BDE executed a first EDRE early December. The scope of this EDRE was to check deployability of a cross section of personnel, equipment and vehicles. Approximately 250 personnel, 12 vehicles and C2 equipment flew to Indian Head, MD and conducted cross-training with CBIRF. Initial alert procedures, recall response, marshalling of troops and equipment, strategic deployment to the incident site, execution of missions within the incident site, and re-deployment back to home station were evaluated and improved where necessary.

In the second quarter, TF OPS executed a more substantial EDRE. Over 1,200 TF OPS Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines, and 400 pieces of equipment deployed to Camp Blanding, FL. Deploying units came from several subordinate elements resulting in units deploying from New Mexico, Texas, Virginia, Maryland and Georgia. An additional 1,000 personnel participated in the exercise from Ft. Stewart serving in the capacity as the out-load support battalion and as a rear detachment C2 function.

All subordinates of TF OPS expressed interest and provided units to participate. In the field, TF-OPS exercised command and control over those augmentee units. In addition, TF-OPS continuously coordinated with lateral commands (TF AVN and TF MED) and with the higher headquarters. Similar to an actual incident, most of the TF OPS down-trace units linked up at the incident site. All TF OPS units executed a deliberate planning and preparation timeline in order to accomplish specific training objectives. The Field Training Exercise (FTX) part involved joint training, specifically with Army and Air Force engineers, Army and USMC CBRNE response forces and the USAF Radiological Assessment Team. In addition, training was provided by the Florida National Guard's CBRNE Enhanced Response Force Package, known as a CERFP.

Graphic showing Infantry Regiment practicing urban search and rescue and debris   cleaning

Soldiers of the 2nd Batallion, 7th Infantry Regiment practicing urban search and rescue and debris cleaning at the Camp Blanding FLNG CERFP site.

The FTX provided invaluable feedback from the squad level through the Brigade's integration with JTF-CS. Communications systems were evaluated in a field environment and Joint Reception, Staging, Onward movement, and Integration (JRSOI) successfully controlled the influx of forces into the disaster area. Consequence management missions were executed throughout the FTX in a decentralized manner much like what is anticipated in a CCMRF emergency. Of notable interest, the deployment procedure and deployment sequence called for a strict Soldier management plan, avoiding early depletion of forces and providing a sustainable tempo for continuous operations. While 1HBCT was certainly able to deploy within the required timelines, the effectiveness of units once on the ground were directly related to the command emphasis on a mandated rest cycle during the deployment sequence. The ground deployment of a 400-vehicle task force broken down into multiple convoys and serials required the drivers and TCs to have a rest plan to support movement through the Georgia and Florida highway systems.

Video teleconferences (VTC)

Joint Task Force – Civil Support maintained contact with the task force commanders by implementing a weekly VTC between JTF-CS and the subordinate task forces. Beside a threat information exchange and discussions about upcoming events that might influence the readiness level, the conferences allowed the commanders to discuss and streamline training events. The weekly VTC proved to be an invaluable tool for lateral and vertical coordination and shaped the tight relationship between the units and JTF-CS. Through dialogue with the commander of JTF-CS and his staff, we were able to maintain a regular command relationship with our higher headquarters and ensure the CCMRF commanding general maintained an accurate assessment of readiness and training postures.

Challenges

Arming status

A commander has the right and obligation to protect his force. However, the nature of the DSCA mission imposes unique restrictions on the ability of Title 10 forces to upgrade their security posture. Specifically, only the President and the Secretary of Defense have the authority to authorize Title 10 personnel to carry individual service weapons within US territory during any DSCA operation.

As a result, Title 10 forces must first turn to local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies and Title 32 National Guardsmen to provide force protection. Notably, if Title 10 Soldiers have force protection issues other responders will have the same. Thus, prior coordination is essential to ensure that non-Title 10 forces can provide adequate force protection to Title 10 service members.

In the event that the President or the Secretary of Defense authorizes Title 10 forces to carry weapons, keeping in mind that weapons would only be used for self-defense, very strict arming orders will be used to ensure unity of the Task Force's outward force posture and to prevent unintended escalations in the show and use of force.

Remains handling

The CCMRF will perform a variety of missions in response to a disaster. One such mission is to conduct search and rescue efforts to save the lives of citizens residing in the disaster area. Undoubtedly, when searching for survivors and those in need of assistance, personnel may locate human remains. Moreover, large scale casualties are likely in many disasters and local authorities may be overwhelmed and unable to recover, and handle, the remains of disaster victims. Thus, the proper handling of human remains is absolutely necessary for public health and safety reasons. The recovery of human remains is normally the responsibility of civil authorities, and military assistance in this area is typically limited. Because local authorities may be overwhelmed as a result of the disaster, federal assistance in this area is appropriate and will often be essential. Providing that assistance, however, is a challenge.

During Hurricane Katrina, the Secretary of Defense limited the handling of bodies and remains to trained mortuary affairs personnel only. Other Title 10 personnel were used only to transport the remains. TF-OPS acknowledged this possible restriction and planned for the use of non-mortuary affairs personnel to support state and local authorities. Under these circumstances, mortuary affairs personnel would provide basic mortuary affairs training to quickly educate Soldiers in mortuary affairs activities. Upon successful completion of such training, these Soldiers would support mortuary affairs personnel in accomplishing their mission assignment. Mortuary affairs personnel would supervise and provide oversight to these newly trained Soldiers to ensure proper techniques, health procedures, and guidance on the appropriate respect for each deceased person were followed. Non-mortuary affairs personnel may also assist State National Guard and civilian law enforcement authorities in locating human remains and transporting them after they have been processed.

While providing support, personnel must also remain cognizant of the state and local laws and procedures that control human remains recovery. For example, death certificates are issued by local authorities and the disposition of human remains is subject to state authority. Accordingly, all efforts related to the handling of human remains should be conducted pursuant to coordinated efforts with local authorities to ensure that state law concerning proper disposition are followed. Lastly, Title 10 personnel must also be aware of the social aspects of disposition. Cultural perspectives or religious tenets may be critically linked to the manner in which remains are handled.

Use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)

At the brigade level, UAVs are an extremely valuable asset that are employed for real-time situational awareness. The UAV is a responsive observation platform that facilitates observation of a contaminated area without endangering response personnel. However, utilizing UAV presents unique challenges while operating on American soil, such as coordination with the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA). The authorization process and points of contact involved are scarcely known at the brigade level. Clearing airspace with the FAA is a time consuming process.

The FAA's authority over and responsibility for the National Airspace (NAS) is in effect before, during, and after a major incident, regardless of Stafford Act declarations, requests by states for federal support, or FEMA intervention. Lessons learned during Hurricane Katrina and Dean, and the California wild fires identified potential risks created by the lack of uniform, coordination procedures. The National Response Plan (NRP) Emergency Support Function 1 (ESF-1) underscores the fact that the Department of Transportation (DOT), through the FAA, is responsible for managing the aviation system during emergencies.

It is therefore essential to recognize the dynamics of domestic airspace coordination, to understand the Contingency Response Air Space System (CRASS), and to know how FEMA develops its Air Concept of Operations (CONOPS). The concern about air de-confliction is shared by our colleagues of Task Force Aviation and has been a topic on Unified Incident Aviation Operations and Airspace Management colloquia.

Obtaining legal authority to employ UAVs is equally as challenging as coordinating clearance of airspace with the FAA. The CJCS Standing DSCA EXORD authorizes the use of traditional intelligence asset capabilities to conduct five types of "incident awareness and assessment" (IAA) activities during a DSCA event: situational awareness, damage assessment, evacuation monitoring, search and rescue, and CBRNE assessment. However, the CCMRF would likely deploy for a CBRNE event pursuant to the authority of the CJCS Standing CBRNE EXORD, which as currently written does not include the five preapproved mission sets contained in the DSCA EXORD. Thus, separate SECDEF approval is required to use IAA assets when a task force is deployed under the CBRNE EXORD. Naturally, intelligence oversight rules under DOD 5240.1-R apply regardless of the source of authority.

Law enforcement sensitive information management

Part of the challenge for a Brigade Combat Team (BCT) to shift from a unit in the lead of counterinsurgency operations, to a CCMRF unit supporting other federal agencies in CONUS is reflected in the way it processes sensitive information. In accordance with AR 381-10 (U.S. Army Intelligence Activities), a BCT supporting lead federal agencies will not conduct any kind of intelligence operations but will assess law enforcement sensitive information to support anti-terrorism and force protection.

Anti-terrorism is defined as defensive measures used to reduce the vulnerability of individuals and property to terrorist acts. Determining what types of defensive measures to emplace in order to protect DOD and civilian forces results from analyzing information from multiple sources. The sources of information are not as important as the credibility and timeliness of it. The key to creating a picture of the threat towards military and civilian first responders is to establish civil/military partnership for terrorist incident crisis as identified as Antiterrorism Task 6 in AR 525-13 (Antiterrorism). Establishing these partnerships with civil authorities as far in advance as possible, is essential for responding to no-notice CBRNE events.

The Army North (ARNORTH) Provost Marshal Office (PMO) produces products that present an overview of emerging threats in order to allow units to change their defensive posture through implementing force protection measures. At the brigade level, the PMO cell strives to replicate much of the capabilities of the ARNORTH PMO, but is limited by personnel. The importance of creating the civil/military partnerships is emphasized to fill the gaps of limited resources.

TF OPS 09-01 Legacy and Recommendations

Standard operating procedures (SOP)

Part of being the inaugural TF OPS meant that there were not many doctrinal resources or a large number of personnel experienced in domestic consequence management operations. The MRX showed us the crucial importance of developing a dedicated CCMRF SOP that would help build a Common Overview Picture (COP), adequate for domestic support operations. Staff functions such as Intelligence and Provost Marshal had to be redefined. Specific vocabulary was added. Paragraphs on legal and environmental considerations, the standard rules for use of force and arming status, recall procedures, deployment sequence and emergency support functions were entered. An important part of our SOP was dedicated to fully understand the capabilities within the force.

Graphic showing TF OPS Current Operations is building the COP in the Tactical Operations Center

TF OPS Current Operations is building the COP in the Tactical Operations Center.

A successful transition of the TF OPS CCMRF SOP to the 2010 and 2011 units certainly demonstrated our legacy and prevented a cold start for the follow on units. Ideally, SOPs are developed before and validated during the mission readiness exercise. A full force MRX, with sufficient observer controllers in a National training Center environment is the ideal scenario and TF OPS 09-01's recommendation.

Transitioning to TF OPS 10-01

Lessons learned briefings, focused on experiences gained during EDREs and other exercises, were presented during planning conferences for CCMRF 2010 units. A similar effort has been developed for units who will cover part of the 2011 CCMRF mission. Additionally, both TF OPS 10.1 and 10.2 sent liaison teams to observe all aspects of Command Post and Field exercises.

The CCMRF mission requires leaders and staff to think about domestic response implications and how to operate in support of another headquarters. Pre-2001 institutional knowledge such as CBRNE drills and rapid deployment sequences needs to be re-instituted. Units need sufficient time to get familiarized with this consequence management mission and the concept of defense in support of civil authorities. Integration of elements of future CCMRF units in all exercises and conferences has allowed a smooth transition between the CCMRF 09 and 10 units.

Standing CCMRF equipment

Critical to the assumption of this mission was the Army's acknowledgement of equipping and manning priorities. The CCMRF carried the same priority as a unit deploying to the CENTCOM AOR. The mission called for equipment that was not normally part of a Heavy Brigade Combat Team, such as additional flat racks, water trailers and pumps. All operational need statements (ONS) were approved and the brigade received the appropriate logistics equipment.

Additionally, more consequence management mission specific equipment was either placed on contingency only, Purchase Request & Commitment Forms and pre-staged with Contracting in event of a CCMRF incident or purchased by Third Infantry Division with training funds due to the equipments' dual use (both CCMRF and CENTCOM applications).

We recommend the development of a Theater Provided Equipment (TPE) set, such as communication equipment compatible with civilian first responder networks, decontamination equipment, and power tools. When properly managed, such an equipment set could be transferred to the incoming units as part of the transition plan. In addition to the financial benefits, specific training for specialized equipment needed for the CCMRF mission could be included in part of the mission assumption training.

Graphic showing Part of the CCMRF dedicated equipment loaded on 3rd Brigade Support Battalion, 1-3 HBCT flat racks

Part of the CCMRF dedicated equipment loaded on 3rd Brigade Support Battalion, 1-3 HBCT flat racks at Fort Stewart, GA.

Importance of engaging the media and getting the proper message out

Another critical lesson TF OPS 09-01 learned is the importance of engaging the media and getting an accurate message into the news cycle. You have to engage the media early and often so you can tell your story. There was some confusion when TF OPS first assumed the mission and there were a lot of informal outlets (such as blogs and liberal websites) that did not understand the importance of assigning a heavy brigade combat team as part of a domestic consequence management response force. It took a coordinated media campaign executed by US NORTHCOM and JTF-CS to finally explain how a federal force would receive authorization to respond to a domestic event and the significance of committing federal forces to support the lead federal agency or state and local actors.

Graphic showing Embedded press during the September 2009 MRX rehearsal at Ft. Stewart, GA

Embedded press during the September 2009 MRX rehearsal at Ft. Stewart, GA.

Very early on, we embraced the media, and we embedded them in every exercise. We emphasized the importance of using a non-military vocabulary, which facilitated the same mindset as the civilian response infrastructure we were supporting. Systematic communication over time told the correct story about what the Soldiers, Sailors, Airman and Marines were doing to support the civilian infrastructure in the event of a CBRNE incident.

Closing Comments

Assuming the CCMRF mission less than 180 days after redeployment from Iraq seemed like a near impossible mission. In reality, this mission had an extremely positive impact on the brigade. The brigade reoriented from an overseas deployment mentality and focused on supporting the homeland. A sense of urgency rapidly engulfed the chain of command and Soldiers quickly focused on preparing for the next mission. The brigade understood the importance of being prepared to deploy in support of the lead federal agency. Completing the critical components of the regeneration process and replacing over 80% of the key leaders in the brigade within six months required support from the 3rd Infantry Division and the Army. The end result was an impressive team effort demonstrating the flexibility and adaptability of the American fighting force.

Assigning an entire BDE to the CCMRF mission allowed the commander to rotate the battalions through different stages of readiness, allowing them to focus on both consequence management and counterinsurgency training. A Brigade Combat Team in the role of TF OPS brings tremendous capabilities: an organic brigade support battalion, four support companies in each one of the maneuver battalions. This gives the commander superb logistics and haul capabilities. There is a UAS platoon to do assessments and provide the commander with situational awareness of the disaster area. More importantly, all this comes with approximately 4500 Soldiers prepared to execute in support of the lead local, state or federal agency.

The brigade successfully integrated with joint service partners and rapidly developed operating procedures understood by all members of Task Force Operations. This mission required a number of command post exercises, and equally important, sufficient field training to validate systems and evaluate task proficiency. Every service committed themselves to mission accomplishment as a joint task force and as a group, TF OPS was very successful.

In closing, it was very reassuring to know the United States would commit such a sizeable force to provide support to the American people in the wake of the surge in Iraq. The CCMRF was never deployed, but every Soldier, Marine, Sailor or Airman of TF OPS 09-01 firmly believed that, if committed, the entire task force would have rapidly deployed and minimized the negative consequences of an attack on the homeland.


 

 
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