CAMP ATTERBURY, Ind -- Vibrant Response was a major field
training exercise led by U.S. Army North held from July to
August 2013 that brought service members from different
branches together at Camp Atterbury, Ind., to practice
responding to a domestic chemical, biological, radiological,
Although the annual exercise is led
by U.S. Army North, the Army component of U.S. Northern
Command, other branches bring their own equipment and
expertise to the fight. The Air Force was no exception.
The Air Force brought multiple assets, including the
Joint Air Component Coordination Element, an Air Force
Radiological Assessment Team, a Theater Epidemiological
Team, a legal team and a human resource team.
Air Force Senior Airman Jesse A. Galgano, a radio frequency
transmission technician with 51st Combat Communication Squadron, and
Army Staff Sgt. Thaddeus M. Atchison, a senior transmission
maintainer operator with B Company, 63rd Expeditionary Signal
Battalion, inspect a Phoenix satellite communications dish August
3, 2013 at Camp Atterbury, Ind. Vibrant Response is a training
exercise simulating a nuclear attack within the U.S. in which
service members from different branches participated. (U.S. Army
photo by Sgt. Samuel Northrup, 7th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)
The JAACE helps the Army element communicate with Air
Force North Command to get key assets for multiple disaster
scenarios, not just CBRN operations.
For instance, last year
AFNORTH supported Hurricane Sandy efforts with incident awareness
and assessment imagery, which gave personnel awareness of what was
happening during that storm.
Many of the Air Force's
life-saving assets were applicable to the Vibrant Response training
“Typically for a real-world event, like the one
this exercise is portraying, there would be C-130 Hercules aircraft
that are capable of refueling helicopters in flight,” said Air Force
Lt. Col. Brian Porter, the Joint Air Component Coordination Element
director. “We would have trained Air Force para-rescue teams that
could conduct search and rescue, if necessary, and a combat
communication squadron that can deploy radios, satellite dishes and
It's not just about the planes in the air, but also
the airspace, Porter explained.
“There was time spent during
the exercise on the air planning board to come up with an air
control measure that would describe how everyone is going to take
off and fly out of their airports into the restricted areas,” Porter
Along with the JACCE, the Theater Epidemiological Team
was there to help with Vibrant Response.
“We will summarize
what kind of exposure is going on and make sure the surgeons and
commanders know what the risks are to personnel,” said Air Force Lt.
Col. Darrin Ott, a bioenvironmental engineer with the TET. “We
advise them on what the treatment options are, but more importantly
we are looking into how other diseases may cause problems.”
The exposure scenarios were abundant for the TET in the Vibrant
Response exercise with many issues dealing with the local
“In this training exercise there were some
issues with some water reservoirs that have been contaminated,” said
Ott. “With that scenario we are able to advise treatment options for
water, [determine] whether or not people are able to drink that
water and help identify other potential sources of water.”
Tainted water was not the only issue on the TET's mission. One of
the biggest problems the TET faced during the exercise was the
threat of radiological contamination from nuclear bombs.
have a team of five folks who come out and try to support the
surgeons and medical operators who are dealing with the potential
effects of radiation,” said Ott. “Based on the radiation exposure we
can provide recommendations on how long people should stay on the
In addition to the JACCE and TET, the Air Force
human resources were on Joint Operations Center floor.
Force Master Sgt. Nikole Messer, an Air Force personnel technician
with 42nd Force Support Squadron at Maxwell AFB Alabama, explains
the Air Force human resources aspect of the exercise includes
accountability and reporting personnel numbers.
“We are doing
multiple functions here,” said Messer. We are accounting for all Air
Force personnel, Joint Task Force 51 members and augmenting the Army
human resources side.”
Air Force personnel have been an
important asset to Army human resources team during the exercise.
“We have been instructing them on what certain abbreviations
mean and they are soaking it up like a sponge,” said Army Spc.
Richard Fullan, a human resources specialist with 302nd Maneuver
Enhancement Brigade, Westover Air Reserve Base, Mass. “They are very
cooperative and very friendly. They are a pleasure to work with.”
Joint exercises are important for all services in understanding
how each other works.
“If a natural disaster were to occur we
don't have enough time to get to know each other,” said Messer.
“That is why we have these exercises. When we go into an Army
situation from here on out we know how to adapt so we can become a
The teamwork and dedication to the mission
created a more cohesive joint force during training exercise and
real world mission.
“We always joke about the saying ‘one
team, one fight,' but when you're in the field you have to rely on
your fellow service members,” said Fullan. “We did that in Iraq, we
did that in Afghanistan and we are doing it here.”
By U.S. Army Sgt. Samuel Northrup
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