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NEWS | Nov. 5, 2018

Army Reserve Civil Support Team helps build disaster preparedness in civilian-led exercise

By Capt. Dino de la Hoya 361st Civil Affairs Brigade

MLADENOVAC, Serbia – U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers from the 7th Mission Support Command participated in Srbija (the Serbian name for Serbia) 2018, October 8-11, in and around Mladenovac, Serbia. 

The 361st Civil Affairs Brigade’s 773rd Civil Support Team and the Medical Support Unit-Europe participated with more than 2,000 combined personnel from Serbia, NATO, and partner nations throughout the duration of the exercise. The exercise aimed to foster interoperability for preparedness towards any international disaster response necessary in the future.

The 18th annual consequence-management field exercise was led by NATO’s Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre. Srbija 2018 was jointly organized by the EADRCC and the Serbian Ministry of the Interior. The EADRCC is NATO’s principal civil emergency response mechanism in the Euro-Atlantic area. The organization helps coordinate requests and offers of assistance in the event of natural or man-made disasters.

“The EADRCC core planning team, in concert with a host nation, strives to create training venues that challenge even the most capable or experienced international response teams,” said Lt. Col. Jeremy Digioia, Training and Doctrine Command chemical surety chief, who was the directing staff director for more than 65 international personnel during the 2018 iteration.

The overall theme of this civilian exercise emerged from a fictional earthquake scenario, based on actual geological and environmental challenges found in Serbia. Country participants provided their technical assistance in areas such as urban search and rescue, water rescue, chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear protection, medical support, and decontamination.

“This exercise isn't a vacation and teams know that when they depart the Base of Operations for a response mission, what they encounter in the field will be as realistic as possible,” Digioia said. 

The MSU-E, as task force commander for the 7th Mission Support Command, provided overall command and control, deployed medical teams, and worked with elements such as The Balkan Medical Task Force, in providing field medical support for the training scenarios.

The 773rd CST provided chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear capabilities, incorporating their technical expertise into a variety of challenging CBRN scenarios. The team worked in a joint and combined environment, alongside other countries and agencies such as the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, to sharpen and enhance CBRN competencies in support to civil authorities.

“EADRCC Serbia 2018 was a very exciting and enlightening event,” said Capt. Delilah Mergupe Medical Support Unit-Europe, task force commander for the exercise. “It presented an opportunity for MSU-E Soldiers to get involved not only with NATO partner nations but also with the 773rd CST which allowed Army Reserve soldiers to utilize their civilian expertise in a training environment.”

The 773rd CST, and MSU-E are commands within the 7th MSC located in Kaiserslautern, Germany. The 7th MSC is the forward presence of the Army Reserve in the European theater of operations to support overseas contingency operations.