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Monday, April 16, 2007

Practice, practice, practice

A soldier from the Georgia National Guard's 4th Civil Support Team (WMD) lowered to the deck of Coast Guard Cutter Elm from an HH-65 dolphin helicopter during a security exercise off the coast of Savannah March 16, 2007. Marine Safety Unit Savannah and the Georgia National Guard's 4th Civil Support Team (WMD) teamed up to test their ability to respond to radioactive material detected aboard a vessel attempting to enter the port of Savannah. Coast Guard photograph by PA2 Bobby Nash.
In case you were wondering how that old CG-4th CST (WMD)cooperation might be going. More on the training here.

More on the Civil Support Team (WMD) here:
The WMD Civil Support Teams were established to deploy rapidly to assist a local incident commander in determining the nature and extent of an attack or incident; provide expert technical advice on WMD response operations; and help identify and support the arrival of follow-on state and federal military response assets. They are joint units and, as such, can consists of both Army National Guard and Air National Guard personnel, with some of these units commanded by Air National Guard lieutenant colonels.

The mission of Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Teams (WMD-CST) is to support local and state authorities at domestic WMD/NBC incident sites by identifying agents and substances, assessing current and projected consequences, advising on response measures, and assisting with requests for additional military support.
And here.

UPDATE: And another report of a training exercise that opened some eyes:
To the list of possible terrorist threats, add the idea of a nuclear bomb exploding in the middle of an American city.

That possibility was explored during a simulated attack in Honolulu where officials concluded that there would be thousands of casualties, a nuclear "hot zone" that would prevent would-be rescuers from helping the injured, and communications failures because of the blast's electro-magnetic pulse.

Alane Andreozzi, deputy chief of consequence management at the Pentagon's Defense Threat Reduction Agency, called the exercise "ground breaking" because "it was the first of its kind - an improvised nuclear device exercise with combined `boots on the ground' from local, state and federal responders."

The exercise concluded that the state would need to make improvements in preparedness if it were to manage such a devastating attack.
Army Maj. Gen. Vern Miyagi...said the simulation showed that "there were a lot of areas we needed to work on."
The exercise scenario assumed that a terrorist group had placed a half-kiloton nuclear bomb on a container ship and detonated it in Honolulu Harbor, in the city's downtown area, on a workday.
Officials concluded that the bomb would likely result in about 200 immediate deaths from the blast, and 8,000 to 12,000 additional deaths from radiation contamination and trauma.

One of the key lessons was that emergency responders such as police and firefighters must be better trained not to rush headlong into the blast area to save people, despite their professional training to do just that.
UDPDATE2: Information on the University of Georgia Center for Mass Destruction Defense here:
The mission of CMADD is to reduce the casualties and social disruption from Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) events and natural disasters through engagement in planning, mitigation, risk analysis, professional training, and the development of response capabilities and infrastructure.
One of their reports "Vulnerability of populations and the urban health care systems to nuclear weapon attack – examples from four American cities" here.

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