By: Spc. Rosalind van Megen
2nd Chemical Battalion
FORT HOOD, Texas â Before dawn, 244 Soldiers of the 2nd Chemical Battalion mounted its 78 military vehicles to convoy 350 miles to Fort Polk, La., Nov. 28 and 29 as part of exercise Operation Urgent Response. In the joint exercise, the battalion partnered with Fort Polkâs 1st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, to validate the Response Task Force concept, comprised of two battalion-level task force headquarters in an effort to support the Defense Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear Response Force, or DCRF mission.
For four days (Dec. 1 - 4), Soldiers of the 2nd Chemical Battalion worked tirelessly to set up mobile decontamination stations, detect radiation and perform mission command operations with nine task force elements comprised of military police, chemical engineers and medical personnel from Fort Hood, Fort Polk and Fort Bragg, N.C. What seemed to be a never ending training event developed into a rewarding lesson for the Fort Hood DCRF Soldiers, according to participants.
âI was in a dismounted recon in search of alpha, beta, and gamma radiation particles and unstable structures. The training was strenuous, however my adrenaline kicked in and I was excited to conduct initial entry and site survey again. I feel confident in our [platoonâs] ability to take on an actual DCRF mission tomorrow,â said Juniper, Fla. native, Pfc. Nikki Zerrendow, assigned to the 181st Chemical Company.
On Dec. 4, more than 500 simulated casualties were processed through ambulatory and non-ambulatory DECON stations. Just like in a television show, dozens of simulated casualties massed about the DECON stations, demanding aid, food and water. DCRF Soldiers interacted and treated an assortment of passive and aggressive âcasualtiesâ with some of the injured having sustained severe wounds and some unconscious. The casualties presented an element of stress and surprise for the DCRF Soldiers amid the chaos. But a group effort from military police, medics and engineers maintained control and order.
âDespite the large number of people involved in Operation Urgent Response, disorder was considerably reduced by one of our task force command officials, said Pfc. Kyle Hagenbuch, 2nd Chemical Battalion, who hails from Three Rivers, Mich.
âHe [task force command official] relentlessly pursued the statistical information I needed when the liaison officers were occupied, thus unable to relay new information to me. I worked with the task force command officials as a scribe and they supplied me with accurate statistics that increased my competence and made me be better at my job,â Hagenbuch said.
Strategic objectives usually cannot be accomplished in a single, swift swoop. Therefore, the 2nd Chemical Battalionâs exercise planners worked backward to derive intermediate operational objectives before the exerciseâs simulated mission occurred. The ultimate strategic objectives were accomplished by tracking sewerage, water, electricity, academics, trash, medical, security and atmospheric statistics, according to planners. Vital information received from those areas ensured the battalionâs officials were able to orchestrate the DCRF development and to pass the reins of control to civilian responders.