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Home : News : News
NEWS | July 26, 2013

Army North prepares for Vibrant Response 13.2

By Sgt. 1st Class Christopher DeHart and Staff Sgt. Corey Baltos U.S. Army North Public Affairs

Exercise Vibrant Response 13.2, led by U.S. Army North (Fifth Army), will take place in various venues in Central and Southern Indiana from Tuesday through Aug. 17, with military and civilian government agencies from throughout the nation participating.

VR 13.2 is the most comprehensive exercise the Department of Defense conducts for its specialized homeland response forces and confirms the operational and tactical capabilities of elements of DOD's Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Response Enterprise.

Key exercise tasks include executing mission command, performing technical tasks in CBRN consequence management, conducting other life-saving missions, providing logistics support to a theater of operations, and exercising military homeland CBRN response and civil support plans.

It will also feature nearly 6,000 civilian and military personnel from around the United States, representing numerous government agencies.

Although a bit smaller in scale this year, accomplishing this seemingly impossible exercise took months of planning and coordination by the Army North team and their planning partners.

"We started planning for this event last fall," said Clark Wigley, an Army North joint exercise planner.

"We looked at what was possible and what wasn't - given the budget and manpower constraints. We also talked to the units that are going to be trained to find out what their training objectives were."

Despite the ambitious approach being taken as VR13.2 approaches, no one at Army North has lost sight that this is the most important exercise of the entire year, after a multitude of different exercises.

"This is the one we own," said Lt. Col. Michael Moloney, Army North Vibrant Response exercise team chief.

"We planned it, we put it together and now we will execute it. This is our baby and we're responsible for the conduct of it - this is why we exist."

A change for this year's VR exercise is the field training exercise portion has been reduced from six days to four.

In spite of this, he said they'll still be able to execute two 24-hour missions with the DCRF.

The DCRF will also incorporate four days of mission rehearsal prior to its four-day FTX, which translates to improved readiness and accelerates DCRF TSF equipment flow prior to the exercise.

One of the key units training at VR13.2 is Task Force 51, a dedicated staff of Army professionals, assigned to Army North, prepared to provide immediate aid upon request of federal or state authorities.

The task force provides command and control for military forces requested to support a catastrophic disaster within the United States or, possibly, its territories.

"Vibrant Response is our Super Bowl," said Sgt. 1st Class Adrian Lambert, a fusion cell team leader for TF-51. "We've been working up to this for almost a year."

To prepare for Vibrant Response, TF-51 conducted several exercises throughout the last few months.

"In February, we conducted a hurricane response exercise with the 302nd Maneuver Enhancement Brigade," said Maj. James Kemter, operations officer, TF-51.

"This was followed up by our participation in Ardent Sentry in May and a digital (command post exercise) in Chicopee, Mass."

The 302nd MEB is an Army Reserve unit based out of Chicopee.

Once VR13.2 begins, the men and women of Army North will shift from the planning process to the operations aspect of the exercise.

Army North Soldiers and civilians are responsible for every facet of the exercise, from observing and coordinating the training and logistics to providing other services, such as chaplain support, facilitating media coverage and coordinating civilian role players.

Each of the response forces will participate in the exercise at different times during the three-week exercise period.

"We haven't taken the guts out of the training," said Wigley. "We're still going to (push) the units to go through the entire process: receiving the order, developing the order, the command and control process, lanes training, etc."

One of the reasons for making the units go through the entire process is that, in the event of a real-world situation, the units would have to go through this process with civilian agencies.

"Many people forget that if this type of incident were to happen, we work for a civilian incident commander," said Wigley, "so it is important that we work with our civilian partners.

The teamwork concept is vital and the mission could not be accomplished without each agency and organization working together. VR13.2 gives everyone the chance to prove they can do it when the need is there.

"This is the culminating event of a (year's) worth of training," said Col. Michael Gibler, chief of staff, TF-51. "This is our time to show how we save lives, limit suffering and put things back in order for the American people we serve - as a team."