Magazine article National Defense

For Homeland Defense, Simulations Are Low-Tech

Magazine article National Defense

For Homeland Defense, Simulations Are Low-Tech

Article excerpt

* First-person videogames and immersive simulations are commonplace in military training. But for the members of U.S. Northern Command's emergency response team, the training is relatively low-tech.

A newly formed organization known as CCMRF--chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high-yield explosive consequence management response force--trains in preparation for emergencies such as dirty bomb attacks or deadly releases of toxic agents in U.S. cities. It is responsible for assisting federal authorities in the aftermath of weapons of mass destruction attacks.

CCMRF members train in groups of about 600 personnel. Training sessions are held in various locations throughout the United States.

In a typical training scenario, they are alerted on their computer screen that a radiological device has been released in a U.S. city. They subsequently receive orders via email, instant message or phone. They may be asked to link up with a local or state force or to coordinate helicopter support to transport victims.

Exercises occur in real time so the unit can assess its ability to respond quickly. While the drill is under way, information flows from simulated television and news media on computer screens.

Trainees must sometimes coordinate with role players acting as civil authorities, such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The unit would like to upgrade its training with more advanced simulations that can more realistically replicate the conditions of a real-world emergency, but officials say the low-tech approach works just fine. …

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