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NEWS | June 17, 2022

Vermont National Guard Hosts SPP Partner North Macedonia

By Sgt. 1st Class Jason Alvarez, Joint Force Headquarters - Vermont National Guard Public Affairs

COLCHESTER, Vt. – The Vermont National Guard’s 15th Civil Support Team hosted six Soldiers from North Macedonia for civil support training at Camp Johnson June 6-11 in an exchange as part of the Department of Defense National Guard Bureau State Partnership Program.

The North Macedonia Army soldiers were from a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear battalion.

The soldiers were observing the tactics, techniques and procedures the 15th CST uses to support civilian authorities in the event of a disaster. That support can be advising on response measures, assisting with requests for additional assets, and responding immediately to hazardous material releases that could cause catastrophic loss of life or property.

“The cross-training conducted was a joint entry with them, first one actually integrating with each other, very cool milestone, where we would do one part and they would take over for the other,” said Sgt. 1st Class Jesse Smith, a noncommissioned officer with the 15th CST. “We do an initial reconnaissance of the target building to see what hazards/threats are present.”

The Soldiers conducted lane training for chemical detection, assessed the incident’s consequences, and advised civil authorities — in this case, the Vermont State Police and Vermont Department of Health.

“After the recon team comes out and goes through decontamination, they meet with the sampling team, operations section and our science officer to determine what and where the sample team took samples from,” Smith said. “We would also take duplicate samples for our science officer and medical NCO to run in the analytical laboratory system vehicle to get a presumptive analysis. We also discussed how they would improve our setup and methods.”

The Soldiers from North Macedonia talked with the 15th CST’s civilian partners, the Vermont State Police and the Vermont Department of Health, about their relationships and how they support each other.

Vermont State Police Capt. Dave Peterson told the soldiers the 15th CST enhances and augments his team for their missions.

This kind of exercise is intended to assist North Macedonia Soldiers as they create a similar CST-style unit to work with their civil authorities.

“Their procedures are very good,” Smith said of the North Macedonia soldiers. “They have a harder job than our civil support team; they have to support both the military and civilian agencies.”

The exchange was one of many the Vermont National Guard and North Macedonia perform every year.

“It’s always great hosting fellow Soldiers from North Macedonia,” said Maj. Gen. Greg Knight, Vermont adjutant general. “Our civil support team and our partner soldiers from North Macedonia always do a great job sharing their experience, so this training exchange was mutually beneficial. These events are really how we sustain our partnership.”

Vermont and North Macedonia have been partners under the State Partnership Program since 1993. The SPP facilitates engagements between militaries and governments and promotes economic and social engagement.