U.S. Army North: A 'No-Fail' Mission

By Swan, Guy C. | Army, October 2010 | Go to article overview
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U.S. Army North: A 'No-Fail' Mission


Swan, Guy C., Army


As we have seen this past year with the Christmas Day and the Times Square bombers, our enemies have not lost the resolve to attack within the United States. U.S. Army North, the standing joint force land component command (JFLCC) and theater army within the United States, conducts civil support operations, homeland defense and theater security cooperation activities in order to protect Americans and our way of life.

We continually work closely with our federal partners responsible for homeland security and with our state partners, both to enhance their abilities to perform their missions to secure the United States and to ensure there are no capability gaps if called upon to assist a state or region in time of catastrophic disaster, natural or man-made. We also remain vigilant in our efforts to protect the National Capital Region (NCR) from airborne threats with a National Guard Air and Missile Defense Task Force on watch, 24/7, in the NCR and fully integrated with Air Force and Coast Guard assets.

Ours is a "no-fail" mission. This is our homeland, and we must anticipate what to expect and to rapidly respond - the American people expect that. Because of this environment, my vision for the future of Army North (Fifth Army) is that we are the Army's Center of Excellence for Civil Support and Domestic Operations and the "go-to" command to lead, coordinate and support land domain operations in U.S. Northern Command's (NORTUCOM) area of responsibility. To that end, there are five areas in which we have to be the best: training, theater security cooperation, planning, synchronization and integration, and command and control.

Training

Our environment is different from that of other combatant commands. We don't see the conduct of traditional offensive and defensive operations, but rather the conduct of civil support operations - those operations that the U.S. military can bring to other federal agencies to save lives, prevent human suffering and mitigate great property damage. In addition to providing support in times of catastrophic natural disasters, we must also be trained and ready for the worst - the use of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), which requires specific technical skill sets that must be trained. These skill sets primarily focus on response to chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) events, and Army North has developed the training capability to ensure that forces allocated to respond are trained to demanding conditions and standards.

Our Civil Support Training Activity (CSTA), coupled with our Training and Exercise Directorate, is at the center of this training enterprise. CSTA maintains the training readiness of the 54 National Guard WMD civil support teams located in each of the states and territories, ready to respond to their governors on very short notice. They also train the technical support forces within the federal CBRN consequence-management response force (CCMRF).

This past year, we increased the response capability of the CCMRF from one to two. Each CCMRF is approximately 4,500 personnel strong, is commanded by a joint task force (JTF) and is capable of conducting technical search and rescue, mass decontamination, medical triage of contaminated patients and a host of general support tasks all in support of a lead federal agency. CCMRF 10.1 is predominantly an active component joint force, while CCMRF 10.2 is primarily a National Guard and Reserve joint force. JTF-Civil Support stationed at Fort Monroe, Va., a JTF under my operational control, is the command-and-control element for CCMRF 10.1 and is dedicated entirely to responding to CBRN incidents within the NORTHCOM and Pacific Command areas of responsibility.

In August 2009, we brought the command-and-control elements of these two CCMRFs to Fort Leavenworth, Kan., and, with the assistance of the Battle Command Training Program, pushed them through a command post exercise (CPX) to verify that they were ready to assume mission on October 1.

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