Photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Shane Wallenda
|Sgt. 1st Class Munoz of the National Guard’s 8th Weapons of Mass Destruction - Civil Support Team, based at Buckley Air Force Base, Colo., demonstrates the capability of the communications truck at a display of WMD-CST vehicles during the NORAD Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear conference at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., Aug. 29-31. The 8th WMD-CST is one of about 40 such teams nationwide that respond to emergencies involving chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high explosive agents or substances.
NORAD CBRN conference hosts interagency groups
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. –
The North American Aerospace Defense Command hosted its annual Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Conference Aug. 29-31 with more than 60 attendees representing dozens of agencies involved in weapons of mass destruction response and prevention.
“We definitely met our objective in getting the different agencies and units together,” conference coordinator Army Lt. Col. Beth J. Kalb said. “We gained a better understanding of the different agencies and commands involved in CBRN, who we can call if we need help with resources, and the best assets available.”
NORAD hosts the CBRN conference each year, usually for an all-NORAD audience. But about every three years the scope
is broadened to include outside participants. Because interest in this year’s conference was high, organizers had to find a bigger venue to accommodate attendance, and the conference briefings were declassified.
“The move did not hinder the quality of the briefings, which were general descriptions of roles and responsibilities of the different agencies," said Canadian Forces Capt. Daniel J. Noebert, conference facilitator. In fact, Kalb said, the conference exceeded expectations in quality of the briefings and the quality of the presenters.
The National Guard's 8th Weapons of Mass Destruction - Civil Support Team, based at Buckley Air Force Base, Colo., displayed seven of their specialized vehicles during the conference. The 22-member emergency response team is one of approximately 40 certified teams nationwide. WMD-CSTs are made up of full-time Army and Air National Guard members who respond to emergencies involving chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high explosive agents or substances. The teams are located within 90 miles of major cities.
The display vehicles contained high-speed, high-tech communications and equipment and included a tactical command center, an analytical laboratory to process potentially hazardous materials, a vehicle with medical treatment capabilities and surveillance vehicles.
“They are like ice cream trucks that can be loaded on a C-5 (large cargo) plane with trailers,” said Sgt. 1st Class Mike Harvey, explaining the teams' ability to travel on short notice to incident locations.
“The CST ... was very popular and [provided] an outstanding display of their capabilities,” Kalb said. She said people enjoyed the opportunity to talk to the personnel who actually operate the equipment and meet with first responders across the nation. “It was great to talk to the young Soldiers and Airmen. You could tell they really like what they do.”
Another popular segment of the conference, Kalb said, was a tour of NORAD’s Cheyenne Mountain Directorate, which is located at the Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, about 12 miles from Peterson Air Force Base.