National Guard adds Homeland Response Force to fight bioterror

To provide a more complete response to a national chemical, biological, nuclear or high-yield explosive incident, the National Guard has added a Homeland Response Force package to its capabilities.

In total, there will be 10 HRF’s, one in each Federal Emergency Management Agency region, by October 2012, according to Currently, the National Guard CBRNE Enhanced Response Force Package has 17 teams, each with 187 members, around the country.

"This will allow us to save lives and mitigate human suffering as rapidly as possible," Air Force Col. Tim Cathcart, the chief of the National Guard Bureau's joint training and education division, told

The role of the HRF will be to provide extended command and control of multiple CBRNE ERFP teams, weapons-of-mass-destruction civil-support teams and other National Guard assets. When they are activated, the teams will be able to initiate search and extraction from collapsed buildings, decontaminate victims and provide transport and triage before doctors are available.

"A HRF is built around a CERFP, with some additional forces, which makes the total number of people activated for mission like this 566," Cathcart said, reports. "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."

Cathcart added that the HRF will have a joint focus, allowing different agencies to work together in an emergency.

"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 said.