War on Terrorism

Friday, July 16, 2010

Wisconsin's homeland defense role to expand

Date: July 16, 2010

The Wisconsin National Guard was selected Monday (July 12) to be one of eight states to field new teams of up to 170 Soldiers and Airmen capable of rescuing, decontaminating and evacuating victims of a weapons of mass destruction attack on American soil. The team is known as a CERFP, a Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosive (CBRNE) Enhanced Response Force Package. Under the 2010 reorganization of the Department of Defense's domestic CBRNE consequence management enterprise, initiated during the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review, the National Guard is to provide 10 homeland response forces - one for each FEMA district - as well as 17 total CERFP teams.

"The Wisconsin National Guard is honored to have a CERFP mission," said Brig. Gen. Don Dunbar, adjutant general of Wisconsin. "Our staff worked hard and developed a sound proposal, and I know the men and women in the Wisconsin National Guard will quickly develop and validate this capability."

Wisconsin's CERFP team, expected to be up and running by 2012, will operate in FEMA Region 5, which also includes Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Indiana and Ohio. Illinois and Minnesota were already designated to host CERFP teams; Indiana and Wisconsin were among the eight states chosen July 12 to field CERFP teams. The Ohio National Guard was one of eight organizations originally tasked with providing a CERFP team to now field the larger homeland response force.

"We will be looking to these experienced units to help with this mission as we bring more capacity into the system," said Gen. Craig R. McKinley, National Guard Bureau chief. "This will bring an equilibrium of population, geography and threat to balance any response needed in this no-fail mission."

The Madison-based 54th CST - one of 57 full-time National Guard civil support teams mandated by Congress and designed for emergencies or terror attacks involving weapons of mass destruction, natural disasters or toxic industrial chemical accidents - remains part of the new CBRNE consequence management enterprise. The scope of the CST is different from the CERFP in that it assists civilian first responders by identifying and assessing chemical, biological and radiological agents. The CST is not equipped to conduct mass decontamination operations. The CERFP is designed for situations too large for a CST to handle alone.

Ten new full-time members will oversee the daily operations of Wisconsin's CERFP, but like most Guard capabilities, traditional Guard Soldiers and Airmen make up the bulk of the unit's staff. The CERFP will include medical personnel, engineers for search and extraction, chemical unit personnel for decontamination, and a command and control section. The mission calls for a CERFP to respond to an incident site within 6 to 12 hours, usually by road. The headquarters for the Wisconsin CERFP has not been determined.

Besides Wisconsin and Indiana, other National Guard organizations assigned CERFP missions include Alabama, Puerto Rico, Louisiana, Kentucky, Nevada, Oregon, Maine, West Virginia, Colorado, Illinois, Florida, Hawaii, Virginia, Minnesota and Nebraska.

No comments: