Marines and sailors with Chemical Biological Incident Response Force, CBIRF, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Command, worked in direct support of the United States Secret Service and multi-branch organizations that composed Joint Task Forces, JTF’s, to provide security for the Republican National Convention at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, July 18-21, 2016, and the Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, July 25-28, 2016.
CBIRF’s mission goes beyond support to local and federal agencies. The unit aims to safeguard against potential crises globally that could happen at any moment and especially during times when leaders of our nation congregate during high-visibility events. The intent for this mission was to guard the American way of life by staying vigilant and ready to respond to any chemical, biological, radiological high-yield explosive, CBRNE threat said Col. Michael L. Carter, commanding officer of CBIRF.
CBIRF maintains two Initial Response Forces, or IRFs, composed of roughly 130 personnel made of Marines and sailors from Headquarters and Service company and Reaction Force company, that assumes the alert 365 days, 24/7, to offer nationwide and global support when requested.
IRF B was tasked to assist JTF-Shield and work closely with the Cleveland police department to provide security for the Republican National Convention, or RNC. While IRF B stood by ready to respond to crises during the RNC, they maintained a high state of readiness by conducting IRF-level drills.
“We were able to perform three IRF-level drills to practice our ability to deploy to a no notice situation, an active shooter drill and a fire drill,” said Capt. Zacharias G. Dentes, executive officer for Reaction Force Company, CBIRF, and IRF B commander.
IRF B performed these drills two to three times a day to keep Marines and sailors sharp, quick and on the alert.
On the first day, the IRF was able to conclude their first deployment drill at 12 minutes and 10 seconds, with a cut off time of 15 minutes. By the end of the convention Marines and sailors cut the original time in half at six minutes and twelve seconds.
Within the IRFs, there is an alert command element, or ACE, that works together with each JTF headquarters to support the IRF during the conventions. The ACE includes the administration section who keeps track of all personnel on the IRF, the Intelligence section gathers intelligence to better inform the IRF of the current events, the operations section coordinates and works as a liaison between the IRFs and the JTFs, the logistics section provides logistics to the IRF, the communications section provides and ensure the IRF has multiple ways of communication at all times, and the safety section ensures Marines and sailors have the proper equipment and are using it in the proper manner. The ACE provides the IRF information to create a battle rhythm that allows for proper planning to respond to any scenario.
IRF A, who worked in direct support of JTF-DNC and the Philadelphia Police Department for the Democratic National Convention, DNC, kept their Marines and sailors engaged throughout the DNC by offering a different drill each day.
“We have performed a deployment drill, tactical decision games, detailed gear checks and cross section training to make sure the Marines and sailors minds are engaged considering all the possibilities in this real world dynamic environment that is the DNC,” said Staff Sgt. John W. Earney, IRF A staff non-commissioned officer in charge.
The deployment drill tested the IRF’s reaction time and ability to muster and gain accountability of personnel and gear within a given time frame, as well as the ability for each Marine and sailor to access their deployment gear. Some of the gear includes a concealment suit, different types of gas masks and gloves, and all necessary equipment to respond to any CBRNE threat.
Tactical decision games and cross section training allowed the Marines and sailors to study the DNCs venue in great detail and allowed the IRF to create a plan to respond to any incident to ensure the highest level of success. Marines and sailors trained with different sections to better understand how each section complements each other, making team work more valuable.
“I couldn’t be happier with the Marines and sailors. Everything IRF A have been asked to do they have done with enthusiasm. They are making decisions and stepped up since we have been here,” said Earney. “We are here to do a job, to serve the United States of America.” “We should be proud of that.”
With the six different capabilities that each IRF possesses, agent detection and identification, search and extraction, technical rescue, decontamination, emergency medical care and explosive ordnance disposal, CBIRF was more than capable and successful alongside each JTF to provide 24-hour response capability to the conventions.
With CBIRF’s ability to respond with minimal warning to a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high-yield explosive (CBRNE) threat or event in order to assist agencies and geographic combatant commanders in the conduct of CBRNE response or consequence management operations, to provide capability of command and control; agent detection and identification; search, rescue, and decontamination; and emergency medical care for contaminated personnel for this year’s RNC and DNC, the Marine Corps’ Premier CBRNE and consequence management response force in readiness ensured the nation’s way of living remains intact.