JTF-CS hosts homeland response leaders for catastrophe exercise

The Joint Task Force Civil Support recently hosted an exercise at Fort Eustis in Virginia to discuss the role emergency management agencies and the military would play in an emergency situation.

More than 100 military leaders and emergency response representatives took part in the three-day exercise between March 5 and March 7. The simulation focused on the necessity for continual collaboration by responders at all levels of government prior to a complex event. The attendees participated in unit mission briefs, an hour-by-hour domestic response walkthrough of military support and capabilities discussions following a state-led response to a chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear event, Dvidshub.net reports.

"Relationships are huge," U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Jeff Mathis III, the commander of the JTF-CS, said, according to Dvidshub.net. "Every conversation we had was collaborative and supportive; we have to work together to take this thing forward."

The JTF-CS is the only standing federal chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear joint task force in the U.S. and it commands 5,200 federal military forces throughout the country.

The event showed that no detail is too small to ensure that all responders are completely synchronized. The exercise also served as a forum for collaborative discussion on how state and federal military units respond to disasters quickly and effectively.

On the final day of the event, the attendees walked through a simulated response to a nuclear detonation in a major U.S. city. The walkthrough enabled the military leaders to consider how and when units would respond, what equipment they would use and the best practices for overcoming unique challenges.

"I believe there was a helpful exchange of ideas and perspectives that will only benefit the (CBRN Response Enterprise) into the future," U.S. Army Col. Mark O'Hanlon, the director of operations for the Joint Force Headquarters-Pennsylvania, said, Dvidshub.net reports.

In August, the JTF-CS will take part in the Vibrant Response field training exercise to evaluate the operational capabilities of approximately 9,000 personnel in support of a homeland response to a complex catastrophe, according to Dvidshub.net.