NAVAL SUPPORT FACILITY, INDIAN HEAD, MD. --
Chemical Biological Incident Response Force, II Marine Expeditionary Force, supported the 2008 State of the Union Address, Jan. 28. CBIRF stood ready for any chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high-yield explosive attack on America’s senior leaders.
“The State of the Union is the one time during the year the president, vice president, members of the Senate, House of Representatives, Supreme Court Justices, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff all meet under one roof at the same time,” said Capt. Justin Powell, the mission commander, Headquarters and Service Company, CBIRF. “Could there be a bigger terrorist target?”
This year marks the ninth consecutive year CBIRF has participated in the State of the Union Address and their role this year was just as critical as it has been in years past, he said.
“Our role here, just like during an actual attack, is to assist that incident commander at the local, state, or federal level or to assist the combatant commander in the conduct of consequence management operations,” said Powell.
Once CBIRF is requested or an actual CBRNE event occurs, CBIRF would deploy to the incident site and work to clear out the threat and save lives, explained Powell.
CBIRF has two basic forms of employment: “no notice,” and “pre-staged.” The no notice employment requires CBIRF Marines to be ready to rapidly respond to an incident with only one hour notice. This state of alertness is maintained 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The pre-staged employment allows for CBIRF Marines and sailors to stage their equipment prior to an event in an attempt to reduce response time and lessen potential threats.
“The pre-stage employment, by far, is CBIRFs most utilized method of employment,” said Powell. “Examples include the Marine Corps marathon, presidential inaugurations, and state funerals.”
Established during 1996, CBIRF is one of the nation’s oldest rapid response CBRNE units and has a wealth of consequence management knowledge. Powell said, this knowledge includes detection and identification, search and casualty extraction, personnel decontamination, medical stabilization and technical rescue, as well as other capabilities.
“Because of the high profile nature of this event, certain agencies requested our presence at the Capitol to assist in consequence management should a CBRNE incident occur during the time of the president’s address.” said Powell.
CBIRF Marines and sailors support a mission unlike any unit in the operating forces, so training is vital for CBIRF members to be prepared for a real-world incident. To be part of the unit and capable of responding to a CBRNE incident, all Marines and sailors, from the battalion commander on down, must graduate from a three-week basic course. During the CBIRF Basic Operations Course, Marines and sailors learn about hazardous materials, emergency medical procedures and decontamination procedures. CBOC is designed to give CBIRF Marines and sailors the tools to survive in a contaminated environment.
“CBOC is geared around the ethos, Every Marine and sailor a responder,” said Powell. “With all Marines and sailors at CBIRF having this training, it greatly expands our crisis management capability. Much like dynamite, we might be a small package, but we pack a big punch!”