CAMP HORIZON, BIRCH BAY, Wash. --
The gentle hum of the response vehicles echoed through the chaotic scene as Marines and sailors with Chemical Biological Incident Response Force, II Marine Expeditionary Force, responded to a simulated chemical release, when a truck exploded in the middle of a civilian community carrying a toxic industrial chemical here May 6.
The training evolution was a part of Ardent Sentry 08, the annual Northern American Aerospace Defense Command and United States Northern Command Defense Support of Civil Authorities exercise that was incorporated into National Level Exercise 2-08.
CBIRF Marines and sailors trained with city and county first responders, bringing CBIRF assets and skills to the incident.
"Local responders and CBIRF Marines and sailors completed an important mission," said Cpl. Christopher Ahrens, team leader, Search and Extract Platoon, Company B, CBIRF. The Marines and civilians worked together mitigating the incident and saving lives as quickly as possible.
“I think we went faster than expected, but that’s a given for CBIRF,” Ahrens said.
“The interaction between the civilian community here at Whatcom County and the military was one of the big objectives, and I thought it worked out really well,” said John Nonemaker, observer and controller, U.S. Army North.
One of the best outcomes of the training evolution for Cpl. Travis Pickens, an extractor, Search and Extract Platoon, was the realism involved in the operation.
“The atmosphere was great,” Pickens said. “People actually live in these houses, and we’re training in the middle of a real community. It’s not like the training facilities we normally train in.”
CBIRF Marines and sailors reacted to the incident well, working together toward the big picture, which is saving American lives, said Nonemaker.
“The ability for the military and the civilian community to maintain operations without a pause…working off of each other’s strength’s and finishing a mission four or five hours faster as opposed to not working together has been the best part,” Nonemaker said.