Army Reserve civil support team exchanges best practices with USAG first responders

By Capt. Doug Magill | 221st Public Affairs Detachment | March 12, 2019

SEMBACH, Germany — Chemical professionals from the U.S. Army Reserve’s one-star command in Europe met with first responders from the U.S. Army Garrison-Rheinland Pfalz fire department, March 6, at Sembach Kaserne to demonstrate each other’s decontamination capabilities.

“It’s show and tell,” said Capt. Josh Varnadoe, 773rd Civil Support Team, 361st Civil Affairs Brigade, 7th Mission Support Command survey team leader. “We have a product that we’ve built for ourselves but we could run their people through our system if need be. It’s building relationships.”

The garrison fire department demonstrated its mobile decontamination system capable of decontaminating a few hundred people in the event of a Chemical, Biological, Radioactive or Nuclear threat. The 773rd Civil Support Team demonstrated its system that is intended for the members of its survey team, but could support additional personnel as needed.

“Our decon is for our team members,” said 1st Sgt. Carol Balderas. “The garrison’s is for more of a larger scale, more permissive environment. This is just a small wedge of our capabilities and we’re looking for ways to increase our interoperability.”

In the event of a CBRN incident, the 773rd CST’s survey team would investigate a site and collect samples – such as a suspicious package or dead wildlife – and send those samples to a mobile lab to identify the contaminant. The CST would then use its decontamination capabilities to decontaminate the members of the survey team, then make a recommendation to an on-site commander how to mitigate the threat.

“We’re the recon guys which is part of the Army garrison response plan, which is part of our mission,” said Lt. Col. Eric Samaritoni, 773rd commander. 

Along with site survey and decontamination, the civil support team can also provide consequence management and a mobile analytical laboratory. The support team brings a unique skillset that supports a strong Europe.

“Not many units have ability to deploy CBRN assets and we’re one of the main CBRN assets in Europe,” Varnadoe said.

The 773rd falls under the 361st Civil Affairs Brigade, the main civil affairs asset in Europe. The 361st falls under the 7th Mission Support Command the United States Army Reserve’s only command outside the United States.