UNION TOWNSHIP — Members of a specialized Ohio National Guard unit were swinging meters during a sweep of the Clinton County Regional Airport’s terminal building to assess “a scenario-based threat.” Happily, it was just an evaluative exercise to test their training proficiency in the event of a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high-yield explosive attack in the Buckeye state.
The 52nd Civil Support Team of the Ohio National Guard worked its way through the staged incident Tuesday. They did so in the presence of EMA partners and civil support readiness staff with the U.S. Army North Command.
Derrick DJ Johnson, the chief of a U.S. Army civil support readiness division, explained, “We’re a department of Army civilians, many of us retired.”
Their specific mission is training and readiness oversight, he said outside a hangar prior to the start of the exercise.
As a homeland security initiative under North Comm (short for North Command), Johnson’s personnel provide training opportunities for these specialized Civil Support Team units to prepare them for the possible terrorist use of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs).
They devise an exercise that’s tied to a particular scenario in order to make the Civil Support Team become better at what it does. They also choose a venue suitable to the exercise.
Every state has its own Civil Support Team, a few states have two.
In a catastrophic WMD event, these state-based support teams would be part of the nation’s response force, said Johnson.
Col. David Foster with Ohio’s 52nd Civil Support Team said its mission is to support first responders in case of a terrorist attack by identifying the substances used, assessing immediate and projected consequences, advising the first responders on what measures to take, and assisting in getting additional federal and state support on the ground if necessary.
He was able to recite that by heart.
Of the role of the civil support teams, Johnson elaborated that the teams would restore some level of calm and normalcy through performing the decontamination, and in brief, would help to limit the extent of harm should an incident occur.
Johnson said an evaluative exercise benefits the unit and thus the community-at-large wherever one takes place.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.