FORT EUSTIS, Va. – Task forces can be formed at the time of a crisis, but a unit in Newport News, Va., Joint Task Force Civil Support (JTF-CS), works 365 days a year with people on call 24/7 for the past 19 years.
“We literally never turn the lights off,” said U.S. Army Maj. Gen. William A. “Bill” Hall, JTF-CS commander. “We’re the nation’s only standing Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) joint task force and our mission is to help those in the American homeland during a catastrophic event.”
Hall assumed duties as commander on June 29, 2018. He has served in a wide variety of staff and leadership assignments.
Established in October 1999, the unit is assigned to U.S. Northern Command. The commander of U.S. Army North has operational control of JTF-CS. What makes JTF-CS distinct is it is led by a National Guard member and is comprised of more than 160 personnel, consisting of Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines from the active duty, Reserve and National Guard components as well as civilian employees. The unit can deploy within 24 hours of notification to command and control DOD forces in support of civil authority response operations in order to save lives, prevent further injury, and provide temporary critical support to enable community recovery.
The JTF-CS provides command and control over the Defense Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Response Force (DCRF), a 5,200-personnel team that extends across 30 bases throughout the United States, assisting with collaborative response capabilities between local, state, tribal and federal agencies. Four DCRF entities, Task Force Operations, Task Force Aviation, Task Force Logistics, and Task Force Medical, are responsible for specific elements of the total force mission.
“One of the most important missions of JTF-CS is to synchronize solutions needed in disasters,” said Hall.
Task Force Operations includes experts and resources for chemical detection and search and rescue. The capabilities of the Task Force Aviation include air lift support from CH-47 Chinooks and UH-60 Blackhawks. Task Force Logistics capabilities include sustainment of the JTF-CS and support to local and federal agencies while Task Force Medical capabilities include casualty decontamination, chemical detection and medical help to support local hospital systems.
The combination of JTF-CS headquarters leadership and four task DCRF forces combined, create a stand-up emergency CBRN capability structured around saving of Americans if needed, said Hall.
“We continually train and focus on any evolving threats to better prepare for any disastrous event,” said Hall. “JTF-CS is a strong, well-trained, flexible force capable of not just decisive action, but enduring action to ensure a sustained response as the magnitude of a crisis unfolds,” said Hall. “We owe that to our fellow Americans.”