Small Wars Journal


Joint Task Force-Civil Support: Americans Helping Americans

Fri, 08/24/2012 - 8:00am

Joint Task Force Civil Support (JTF-CS) is a permanent military headquarters responsible for integrating and controlling federal military forces in response to a catastrophic Chemical, Biological, Radiological or Nuclear (CBRN) incident. When such an event occurs, our organization manages the 5,000-member Defense CBRN Response Force (DCRF), highlighted in our previous blog entry

Soon after I took command of JTF-CS, we took part in the annual Vibrant Response 13 exerciseSpanning the state of Indiana and northern Kentucky, and involving over 9,000 service members, cadre, and role players, the exercise replicates the effects of a 10-KT nuclear detonation in a major US city.  Such an event could kill hundreds of thousands, with millions more injured, sick, and homeless.

The magnitude of such an exercise and its implications for real-world impact make me think of my children, family and friends. These are our people:  Our responsibility to help those in need is tremendous.

JTF-CS controls designated DOD forces as they provide life-saving and life-sustaining capabilities to our federal, state, tribal and local partners.  We also help communities recover from a major CBRN event or natural disaster. This is a very capable response force that is ready for for such missions as urban search and rescue, mass casualty decontamination, medical triage and stabilization, and evacuation in a CBRN-contaminated or affected environment.

If we are deployed during a major event, it is truly a bad day for the United States. But we will provide the best military support possible to the primary agency responding to that incident.

JTF-CS is augmented with units from each of the Armed Forces, based on deployment rotation cycles and functional capabilities. We train and coordinate with them to improve our ability to respond to a national emergency.

It is worth noting that a CBRN incident may not necessarily come in the form of a nuclear detonation, perpetrated by terrorists.  Last year, JTF-CS sent advisors to assist US Pacific Command in their efforts to help the people of Japan in the wake of the deadly nuclear disaster in Fukushima. We also play a key role in conventional disaster relief.  In August of last year, JTF-CS sent a command and control element to support FEMA as they prepared for the landfall of Hurricane Irene.

JTF-CS is a unique organization, capable of attending to the needs of not only our fellow Americans, but our partners as well.  We work diligently to ensure that we are ready to meet that call for duty. I’m confident that when we are called up, our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen will be able to meet the point of impact and do whatever is needed to save and sustain lives.

We belong to the best military in the world due to the absolutely dedicated men and women that join the U.S. Armed Forces.  These men and women are focused and determined to do everything possible to protect and sustain our Nation’s freedom.  This mission is all about Americans helping Americans.