4th MEB completes CCMRF mission.
One of the elements of unified land operations is stability operations, or civil support operations. There are four primary Army civil support tasks:
* Provide support for domestic disasters.
* Provide support for domestic chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and high-yield explosives (CBRNE) incidents.
* Provide support for domestic civilian law enforcement agencies.
* Provide other designated support (such as wildfire response).
As part of civil support operations, the 4th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade (MEB), Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, was assigned as the Task Force Operations headquarters for the chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and high-yield explosives consequence management response force (CCMRF) from 2009 to 2011. The 4th MEB demonstrated that MEBs are uniquely organized to meet the mission requirements of Task Force Operations headquarters. This article contains a discussion of the history and importance of CCMRFs, a description of the challenges that the 4th MEB overcame, and an explanation of why the MEB is the organization optimally suited for the CCMRF Task Force Operations headquarters.
The CCMRF began with the 2007 release of the "National Strategy for Homeland Security." (1) The report emphasized the continuing threat that terrorist organizations posed to the United States through their potential use of weapons of mass destruction, which the Department of Defense (DOD) characterizes in terms of CBRNE materials. (2) Many well-developed plans to prevent such horrible attacks were in place, but the ability to mitigate the traumatic results of a weapons of mass destruction attack were insufficient. While local agencies could respond to some CBRNE incidents (such as low-level chemical spills), catastrophic incidents (such as nuclear attacks accompanied by major human casualties and infrastructure damage) would require an extraordinary level of predetermined organizational structure.
A unified national response (which includes DOD) is required to properly address a catastrophic CBRNE incident within the United States. As a result of the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has been designated as the overall federal coordinating agency for disaster response planning. The Federal Emergency Management Agency, which falls under the Department of Homeland Security, serves as the primary federal agency responsible for coordinating interagency responses to CBRNE incidents. As a supporting organization, DOD provides assets requested by local, state, or other federal government agencies. The DOD-required assets prompted the establishment of National Guard CBRNE response units such as civil support teams and CCMRFs.
In his testimony to the House Armed Services Committee (Subcommittee on Terrorism and Unconventional Threats and Capabilities) on 28 July 2009, General Victor E. Renuart stated, "CCMRF is a task force (approximately 4,700 people) that operates under the authority of Title 10. (3) CCMRFs are self-sustaining and may be tailored to any CBRNE event. A CCMRF is composed of Army, Marine, Navy, and Air Force units with unique CBRNE training and equipment and general-purpose units trained to operate in proximity to a hazardous or contaminated environment. CCMRF capabilities include event assessment, robust command and control, comprehensive decontamination of personnel and equipment, hazmat handling, air and land transportation, aerial evacuation, mortuary affairs, and general logistical support to sustain extended operations." (4) In addition, the task organization of a CCMRF (now known as a defense chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear response force [DCRF] for CCMRF 1 or as a command and control chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear response element [C2CRE] for CCMRFs 2 and 3) allows for scalability in response to CBRNE disasters.
A CCMRF (DCRF or C2CRE) is composed of a conglomerate of DOD assets. A further breakdown of the organizational structure is necessary to illustrate the importance of the 4th MEB in the CCMRF force structure. The CCMRF is composed of three task forces--Operations, Aviation, and Medical. The 4th MEB was involved in Task Force Operations; and even though the organization was well-suited for the role, issues existed.
During the planning phase (before CCMRF Title 10 forces arrive), local, state, and regional Title 32 forces (civil support teams; chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and high-yield explosives enhanced response force packages [CERFPs]; homeland response forces; and disaster assistance response teams) (5) move into the joint operating area and begin to exhaust basic loads. Under the concept of support for these forces, the responsibility for resupply support is assigned to the Consequence Management Support Center--a National Guard Bureau asset. Some of the Title 32 forces, such as the civil support teams and CERFPs, have specialized, technical-forces resupply requirements. Should shortfalls in the Consequence Management Support Center's abilities or timelines exist, the Title 32 forces that initially responded may relay additional resupply requirements to the CCMRF. Because these additional resupply requirements are often not included in the CCMRF concept of support, Title 10 forces and the Consequence Management Support Center work together to capture the requirements and amend the concept of support and logistics estimates accordingly.
The preparation phase also allowed the 4th MEB to identify challenges. Task Force Operations is comprised of companies and battalions from various installations throughout the United States. The complexity of force projection across the country complicates the task of the assigned brigade level task force to validate the abilities of the assigned unit(s) to deploy from their respective installations. Due to weather and other factors, the complexity of force projection is very challenging, even for Regular Army units--and much more so for Reserve Component units, which routinely struggle to get enough dedicated enablers to assist with their rapid deployment from their assigned/mobilized installations. The sourcing of future units should take into account the abilities of the installations to rapidly deploy the assigned units and also the geographic locations of those units in relation to the assigned brigade level task force.
The final challenge--providing the lifesaving capability of water--was identified during the execution phase. The 4th MEB used a tactical water purification system to generate more than 70,000 gallons of purified water for internal sustainment, to augment Federal Emergency Management Agency points-of-distribution deliveries, and to support decontamination operations as necessary. According to the modified table of organization and equipment, in addition to the tactical water purification system, the 4th MEB is authorized two lightweight water purification units and several containerized water distribution platforms. The fiscal year 2012 modified table of organization and equipment calls for a reduction in these capabilities. To continue to successfully produce adequate water, the retention of all existing water production capabilities and the augmentation of these capabilities with another tactical water purification system are vital. Due to its critical nature, the water supply should not be depenent upon a single purification system.
The organization of an MEB allows it to effectively provide mission command in defense support of civil authorities, making it the ideal DOD unit for commanding CCMRF Task Force Operations. The MEB consists of * Organic units.
* A brigade support battalion.
* A signal company.
* A headquarters company.
* Headquarters staff.
* Personnel (S-1) staff.
* Military intelligence (S-2) staff.
* Operations (S-3) staff (including operations; chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear [CBRN]; military police; fires; airspace management; and engineer cells).
* Logistics (S-4) staff.
* Plans (S-5) staff.
* Signal (S-6) staff.
* Special staff (including public affairs, legal, surgeon and medical, and unit ministry teams).
The MEB, which is designed as a modular brigade headquarters, is capable of providing mission command to any number of attached battalions. Units attached to Task Force Operations headquarters include a chemical battalion, an engineer battalion, and a military police battalion.
As the Task Force Operations headquarters, the MEB's greatest asset is its functional cells. These cells provide depth and technical expertise not possessed by a brigade combat team. While the MEB boasts an entire CBRNE staff that is trained in CBRNE defense, brigade combat teams include only a captain and a noncommissioned officer. The 4th MEB CBRNE cell officer in charge believes that, due to the functional cells, the MEB makes the perfect headquarters for Task Force Operations. According to the officer in charge, "The MEB has all the subject matter experts that not only develop situational awareness for the commander, but also make rapid decisions to evaluate the hazard area to evacuate casualties, while keeping troops and civilian response teams out of harm's way."
One of the major strengths of the MEB is its robust current operations cell, which consists of CBRN, engineer, and military police personnel who serve as subject matter experts for all battalions attached to Task Force Operations. Because the MEB is designed to be an owner of an operational environment, its current operations cell is larger than that of other functional brigades.
The MEB fires cell also plays a crucial role in Task Force Operations. Because there is no need to coordinate fires during a CCMRF mission, the fires cell is organized as the liaison cell, which coordinates with the incident commander--the lead civilian agency for the incident response. For civil support operations, the military works for civilian agencies. The military mission begins as a request for assistance from the supported civilian authority.6 Civilian incident commanders do not have a complete knowledge or understanding of the Army's capabilities or legal restraints regarding CCMRF missions. Therefore, the MEB liaison cell performs the important function of explaining Task Force Operations capabilities to the incident commander so that available assets can be properly managed.
U.S. law defines nearly every aspect of civil support operations. As a result, domestic operational environments are quite different from environments outside of the United States. Many Soldiers are prohibited from undertaking certain missions, particularly those associated with law enforcement. The disregard for the laws governing civil support can cause military units to enter legal minefields that will cripple mission accomplishment. (7) For this reason, the brigade legal team is an essential element of Task Force Operations. The legal team is incorporated into the planning process to ensure the legality of all missions. The team also relays legal knowledge and advice to all leaders within the brigade. If the law is broken and the brigade is unable to conduct further operations, lives could be lost.
A CBRNE incident could result in thousands of casualties. In addition, there could be people who are not physically sick but believe that they are, as well as those who are "worried sick." The MEB brigade surgeon and medical team is available to help plan, coordinate, and synchronize the medical operational response requirements with Task Force Medical. To save the maximum number of lives, Task Force Operations and Task Force Medical must work together. The brigade surgeon and medical team provides the necessary link.
The airspace management cell is yet another reason that the MEB is the ideal organization for Task Force Operations. Large numbers of personnel and supplies must be moved throughout an area during a CBRNE response. When road networks are damaged, air may become the only means by which isolated individuals can receive supplies or medical treatment; therefore, airspace is crucial. The airspace management cell is the essential link that synchronizes Task Force Aviation and Task Force Operations air operations.
A CBRNE incident could demolish buildings and devastate the infrastructure. This would require a huge amount of engineer support. According to the office in charge of the 4th MEB Engineer Cell, an MEB possesses all possible aspects of engineering within its organization. It encompasses the areas of bridging, debris removal, construction, asphalt, concrete, plumbing, electrical, survey and design, and firefighting. While the number of MEB personnel is limited relative to a true engineer brigade, the military occupational specialty abilities of the MEB exceed those of an engineer brigade.
The civilian communication system will probably be overloaded during a CBRNE response, with thousands of people attempting to call friends and family to request help or to notify them of their status. And many civilian agencies also rely on the communication system, adding to the strain on the system. The communication infrastructure itself could be damaged--especially if the incident were to involve a nuclear bomb with an electromagnetic pulse (EMP). The signal company assigned to the MEB can provide the necessary communication for all Task Force Operations units.
A CBRNE attack on the Homeland would create more terror and confusion among Americans than any other type of attack, which is why terrorists continue to acquire and attempt to use weapons of mass destruction. And the CBRNE threat will remain as long as individuals and organizations that are willing to use terrorism as a means of achieving political goals are in existence. The United States must remain vigilant in protecting the Homeland and must stand ready to provide a swift, synchronized response to any CBRNE attack. The MEB is the military unit best-suited to assist civilian authorities in responding to a CBRNE attack. Due to the robust, specialized MEB staff and the ability of the MEB to command and control any number of CBRN, engineer, and military police units, DOD should continue to assign the Task Force Operations mission to the MEB. gpgp
(1) 'National Strategy for Homeland Security," Homeland Security Council, October 2007.
(2) U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO)-10-123, Planning, Resourcing, and Training Issues Challenge DOD s Response to Domestic Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and High-Yield Explosive Incidents, 7 October 2009.
(3) "Title 10" refers to U.S. Code (USC), Title 10, Armed Forces, which governs forces under the control of the federal government.
(4) "Statement of General Victor E. Renuart, Jr., USAF Commander, United States Northern Command Before the House Armed Services Committee, Subcommittee on Terrorism and Unconventional Threats and Capabilities," 28 July 2009," <http://democrats.armedservices.house.gov/index.cfm/files/ serve?File_id=ebd839c6 -ec27-4354-8d74-08eaa9418b7b>, accessed on 12 March 2012.
(5) In addition to Title 10 forces, CCMRFs also include Title 32 forces, which are National Guard forces that--with the President's permission--are activated under the command of the state governor, but are paid by the federal government. Title 32 forces are governed under USC Title 32, National Guard.
(6) Field Manual (FM) 3-28, Civil Support Operations, 20 August 2010.
Major Heintzelman is the plans officer for the 4th MEB. He holds a bachelor's degree in history and political science from Grove City College, Pennsylvania, and a master's degree in environmental management from Webster University. He is also an Intermediate-Level Education (Homeland Defense Track) graduate.
Major McCutcheon is the operations officer for the 4th MEB. He holds a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from South Carolina State University and a master's degree in environmental management from Webster University.
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|Author:||Heintzelman, Todd W.; McCutcheon, Rodney D.|
|Publication:||CML Army Chemical Review|
|Date:||Jun 22, 2012|
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