NAVAL SUPPORT FACILITY DAHLGREN, Va. - --
NAVAL SUPPORT FACILITY DAHLGREN, Va. - Marines and sailors with Initial Response Force, IRF B, Chemical Biological Incident Response Force, CBIRF, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Command, participated in a certification exercise, CERTEX, which included a simulated chemical attack and a sling load operation aboard Naval Support Facilites Indian Head Annex Stump Neck, Md., and Dahlgren, Va., Dec. 13, 2016.
This CERTEX evaluated all capabilities of the IRF including identification and detection, technical rescue, decontamination, search and rescue/casualty extraction, medical, explosive ordnance disposal, as well as command and control to better inform the commanding officer how quickly and effectively IRF B is able to respond to a chemical, biological radiological, nuclear and high yield explosive, CBRNE, device threats.
CBIRF is widely considered the Nation’s premier chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high-yield explosives, CBRNE, response force. When directed, CBIRF forward-deploys and/or responds with minimal warning to a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high-yield explosive (CBRNE) threat or event in order to assist local, state, or federal agencies and the geographic combatant commanders.
This exercise brought in CBIRF Headquarters & Service assets such as embarkation specialist with Logistics Platoon and Marines with Motor Transport Platoon and UH-60M Blackhawks from U.S. Army’s 12th Aviation Battalion located at Fort Belvoir, Va., for a special sling load operation making this exercise a multi-service operation.
IRF B was given the task to detect and identify the cause of what seemed to be a chemical attack said Erick Swartz, senior scientist with CBIRF. After the identification of a nerve agent Marines from Extraction Platoon quickly extricated simulated victims trapped inside an office building while remaining on the alert for any improvised explosive devices, IED’s.
“Marines with Identification and Detection platoon were able to narrow down the chemical threat to a nerve agent which caused temporary blindness and seizure like symptoms,” said Sgt. Augustine Romero, operations chief for IRF B.
“This exercise posed unique challenges to the IRF” said Romero. “The IRF was in need of more supplies.”
As part of the simulated attack, in partnership with 12th Aviation Battalion, logistics Marines conducted a sling load operation to simulate a re-supply push package from NSF Indian Head Stump Neck to NSF Dahlgren via UH-60M Blackhawk helicopter.
This sling load operation served two purposes, said Romero. It allowed the IRF to accomplish a more complex mission over a longer than usual working time and provides all around training for embarkation, motor transport and engineer Marines.
“The sling load training is an important asset to an IRF as it provides a more expedited way of transport to be able to resupply the IRF with items such as more medicine, or more equipment to get the mission accomplished,” said Sgt. Joshua Davenport, a team leader with Logistics Platoon, CBIRF.
“Whether CBIRF responds to a natural disaster or an explosion of sorts, aerial transport might be the only option. This type of training helps build stronger relations with the 12th Aviation battalion,” added Davenport. “It is important for different branches to train together to better serve when needed.”
Training to transport needed materials using other services’ assets is realistic because when CBIRF is tasked to respond it will more than likely be within the command structure of a Joint Task Force. In that scenario, it is very likely that CBIRF would coordinate with units like 12th Aviation Battalion for logistics support.
“CBIRF’s response was a success,” said Romero. “If this would have been a real life scenario we would definitely have saved lives.”