DVIDS – News – Serving the homeland when tragedy strikes: New York National Guard sharpens disaster preparedness skills during a Homeland Response Force exercise

CAMP SMITH TRAINING SITE, N.Y. – The National Guard has been called to serve the communities in which they live and is the first military organization to respond to support civil authorities during an emergency.

The National Guard is known for responding to natural events such as snowstorms, earthquakes, wildfires, and floods, but can also respond to catastrophic events involving chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear (CBRN), and high-yield explosive events .

Recently, select Soldiers from the New York National Guard’s 42nd Infantry Division gathered at Camp Smith to hone their command and control capabilities as the Region II Homeland Response Force (HRF). The exercise, which took place from April 15 to 19, tested the civilian soldiers’ ability to manage a simulated incident involving the detonation of an improvised nuclear device.

“It is essential for us as a military, especially in the New York National Guard, to ensure that we are ready to be called upon in both a combat environment and to support our governor and our elected officials in a (defense support to the civil authorities) role,” said Brig. Gen. Christopher R. Cronin, the commander of the 2nd HRF. “And the HRF fulfills that role for us, where we come together to ensure that we have the capability and capacity to assist our local authorities in the event of a disaster, whether it is a natural disaster or a CBRN event.”

When directed by appropriate authority and with Governor’s approval, the HRF’s mission is to support the State’s response through casualty assistance, search and extraction, decontamination, and medical triage to save lives rescue and alleviate human suffering.

During the week, the HRF team faced various scenarios as they managed the actions of simulated and real-life Civilian Support Teams (CST) and other National Guard specialists responding to the radioactively affected area. Both real and simulated teams conducted search and extraction, decontamination and other activities while supporting first responders and civil authorities.

The exercise ensured that “our staff (is) ready to support our downrange units that will be forward deployed in support of civil authorities,” Cronin said of the HRF command and control team. “In the military we are constantly learning: where you train, test, evaluate, reassess, and then you train again.”

In addition to managing the response, personnel and equipment, the HRF also had to solve other unique problems, such as a simulated vehicle accident requiring hospitalization of National Guard soldiers and a lack of staff to cover affected areas as requested by the civilian leadership.

“The Army is doing a great job of ensuring that we are a professional organization that leads, trains, reevaluates who we are and what we do, and comes up with better solutions to implement that training so that our missions are successful,” Cronin said. .

While the HRF’s command and control element worked to manage the response from a central location away from the simulated affected area, other Soldiers with various National Guard units from across the state practiced their capabilities in a realistic training environment.

“We train as part of the Homeland Response Force with a mission primarily focused on searching and retrieving casualties from any chemical, biological, radiation or nuclear event,” said Capt. Christopher Monteferante, commander of the 827th Engineer. Company and Putnam Valley, born in New York. “A mission like this is the worst-case scenario. It becomes chaos; it is thousands of victims and a lack of order. By being prepared for something like this, we can try to save as many lives as possible and help the community recover from such a tragedy.”

During their portion of training at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, soldiers and airmen from the 827th Engineer Company, 222nd Chemical Company and several other units in full protective suites combed through piles of concrete and medal debris while in full protective suites. suites were around, vacuuming, decontaminating and treating victims so that they can train as close to reality as possible.

“We never know when tragedy will strike, and it is always better to be prepared and not need this asset than to need this asset and not have it,” Monteferante said. “What’s striking is that you actually get to the pile, put on the suits and actually let the soldiers run through it while everything is ready. It gives a better sense of realism than we can achieve in the armories of our home stations.”

In the coming months, the New York National Guard’s 53rd Troop Command will assume the HRF mission for the region. While this is the last time the 42nd Infantry Division will lead the 2nd HRF, lessons learned during this exercise and previous training events will enable future HRF teams to continue the mission and increase the National Guard’s response capabilities.

“Many of the Soldiers in the 53rd have been a regular part of the HRF for the last 10, 20 years, so it’s nothing new to them,” Cronin said. “We just improved the process. We have integrated a number of new technologies to track our support to our local civil authorities. So that will be a battle multiplier for them.

“For the most part, we did a great handoff,” Cronin added. “They have the institutional knowledge to take what we have and what we have given them to the next level.”

Date of recording: 21.04.2024
Date posted: 22.04.2024 15:51
Story ID: 469030

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