STARKE, Fla. --
It's a capability that's critical to our national security, but one no one wants to ever have to use. Housed within the National Guard are several Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and High-Yield Explosive and Weapons of Mass Destruction response forces and teams, tasked with responding to serious incidents and disasters throughout the country at a moment's notice.
They go by different names, with unique skill sets and capabilities, but they all have a similar mission: to save lives and ease human suffering during disasters.
Several of these units came together for training and a regular evaluation at Camp Blanding Joint Training Center. The Florida and Georgia National Guard's Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and High-Yield Explosive Enhanced Response Force Packages (CERF-Ps) and the newly-formed Georgia National Guard Homeland Response Force (HRF) responded to a disaster scenario that could realistically happen in the local area.
With evaluators and observers closely monitoring, the Soldiers and Airmen demonstrated their ability to respond to a disaster by conducting urban search and rescue, decontamination and medical triage. New to this concept is the command and control and security element provided by the HRF when multiple response forces are on scene.
"This is adding a new layer of responsibility in the chain of command," said Maj. Teri Travis, commander of the Florida CERF-P. "I'm proud of how we've come this far. This is a good team, and I'm very pleased with all the hard work and motivation that all the Soldiers and Airmen have put forth in working hard and training hard."
CERF-Ps are joint Air National Guard and Army National Guard units formed with Guard members from different units with very specialized skills. This scenario brought these specialized units from two states together to learn the best way to work collectively during an emergency.
"There are always challenges when you're working with folks from other states because they do things differently," said Travis.
All of the exercises and the training produce Guard members with very specialized skills, prepared and ready to quickly respond locally and nationally to save lives after a disaster.
"The way I see it, these folks have joined the National Guard for a reason, they have it in them to help mitigate suffering," said Travis. "So this is just another skill set that we're training these Soldiers and Airmen to be proficient in."
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