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NEWS | May 15, 2019

Exercise Vibrant Response tests 76th Operational Response Command capabilities

By Pvt. Carlos Cuebas Fantauzzi 22nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

The 76th Operational Response Command (ORC) out of Salt Lake City activated as Task Force 76 for exercise Vibrant Response 19 at Camp Atterbury, Indiana, May 7, 2019. 

The exercise simulates a catastrophic attack on American soil and runs from May 7 to May 16.

Brig. Gen. Doug Cherry, commanding general of the 76th ORC, oversaw the event and described it as unique in the Army mission. 

“This mission is unlike anything else we do in the Army,” Cherry said. “When our units come on the mission to be part of the nation’s chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosives defense response element – they are training to respond to America’s worst day.” 

Task Force 76 serves as a special response unit that is operated and activated by the 76th ORC in the event of an attack hitting the nation. 

Exercise Vibrant Response is used as an evaluation tool for higher headquarters to assess the capabilities of the U.S. Army in a real-world CBRNE response mission. 

“Our headquarters will come in and look over our shoulders while we conduct this exercise,” Cherry said. “It’s a great opportunity for our Soldiers to show we know what we are doing.” 

The event included approximately 16 units with 1,200 Soldiers, bringing capabilities ranging from aviation and medical to religious support services.

Chaplain (Lt. Col.) David H. Jones, Task Force 76 deputy command chaplain, was one of the senior officers in this exercise and said he found the training in Vibrant Response to be of great significance.

“It was very valuable for us to exercise what we would actually do in a scenario…,” he said. “The training puts into perspective real-world scenarios, that if we ever got attacked like this on our soil, our Soldiers will be ready and have processes in place to go in and support America.”

At Muscatatuck Urban Training Center, about an hour from 76th’s base camp, the task force’s Soldiers partnered with units from across the country to contain a notional nuclear fallout. 

Fire spewed from buildings, a derailed train dangled over a collapsed bridge, overturned cars rerouted Army rescue vehicles, and debris littered the landscape at the training centered designed to simulate a catastrophic strike.

Through the chaos, Task Force 76 Soldiers donned protective chemical gear to spray down and ‘decontaminate’ victims of the notional blast. Search and rescue teams looked for survivors, and Army medical personnel helped treat casualties. 

Meanwhile, back at the task force headquarters, the 76th’s command and staff battle-tracked what was happening at the training center. They simulated pushing out supplies to restock their troops on the ground and assist victims. They called in search-and-rescue aviation assets and flexed various subordinate task forces to Muscatatuck to help the people and their troops in the fallout zone.

“The task force did a great job,” Cherry said. “They knocked it out of the park, and I’m confident they will do their job if this event was to happen.” 

This is the sixth time the 76th has participated in Vibrant Response. The unit continues to train throughout the year across the nation in order to be prepared for "America's worst day."