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NEWS | Aug. 24, 2023

Maine, NH, Rhode Island Guardsmen Train on Domestic Response

By Maj. Carl Lamb, Joint Force Headquarters - Maine National Guard

JOINT BASE CAPE COD, Massachusetts - Soldiers and Airmen from the Maine, New Hampshire and Rhode Island National Guard conducted a training and evaluation exercise of the New England CERFP Aug. 12-18.

This regional response team assists first responders during large-scale emergencies. Exercise participants included 25 Maine Guardsmen and 150 New Hampshire and Rhode Island Guard members.

CERFP stands for CBRN enhanced response force package, and CBRN stands for chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear. The CERFP mission is one example of Air and Army National Guard elements working together as part of what the military calls defense support to civil authorities.

The package consists of six elements: command and control, search and extraction, decontamination, medical, fatality search and recovery, and a communications team. Maine is primarily responsible for the command and communication elements.

The scenario for the final test on evaluation day centered around a simulated 10-kiloton nuclear detonation in a New England city. Over 350 simulated casualties were extracted from building rubble and processed through decontamination, triage and recovery stations.

"The New England CERFP received a 'T' for 100% of all collective performance tasks for all elements," said Lt. Col. Kevin Kelley, commander of Maine's 521st Troop Command.

A 'T' rating indicates the unit is fully trained on that task. Kelley said the exercise director and lead evaluator shared that the New England team is only the second unit he has seen achieve 100% in 10 years of similar evaluations.

"The CERFP mission is a critical one and really embodies what the National Guard is all about — being always ready to render aid to our civilian neighbors," said Brig. Gen. Dean Preston, commander of the Maine Army National Guard. "Every time they get together, this New England team gets it done. The faces have changed, but their record of success does not. This group has a lot to be proud of."

Preston recognized five Soldiers and Airmen for excellence and presented each with a command coin.

Nationwide, 27 CERFPs comprising regional Air and Army National Guard personnel perform additional annual training beyond the traditional two weeks a year focused on the federal wartime mission. The New England CERFP, which serves FEMA Region 1, can assemble within six hours of an official request. An advance party can be on the scene within four hours.



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