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NEWS | June 4, 2024

78th Training Division leads Guardian Response 2024, multicomponent CBRN exercise tests readiness

By Capt. Jonathan Ferrer and Staff Sgt. Phillip Scaringi 78th Training Division

The U.S. Army Reserve's 78th Training Division (TD) led Guardian Response 2024 (GR 24), a multi-component exercise held at the Muscatatuck Training Center (MUTC) in Indiana. This large-scale training event validated the ability of Active Duty, Reserve, Marine Corps, and Air Force units to conduct critical missions in response to a Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear (CBRN) event.

GR 24 provided a realistic training environment for Soldiers to hone their skills in search and rescue, patient evacuation, medical care, and civilian decontamination. The 78th TD's Soldiers meticulously planned, coordinated, and evaluated units as they navigated challenging scenarios designed by MUTC's training professionals.

"Guardian Response is one of the few missions where we directly translate training into saving lives," said Col. Joe Benz, deputy director of GR 24. "Units train here to refine their skills and ensure they are prepared to respond effectively in real-world CBRN emergencies."

A key focus of GR 24 was fostering seamless communication and collaboration between military and civilian teams. By working together in simulated large-scale events, these teams can significantly enhance their overall response capabilities.

"This exercise is about saving lives," emphasized Col. Benz. "It's a joint effort, incorporating active duty, Reserve, and National Guard components, alongside civilian partners. MUTC's unique training environment provides the perfect platform for this realistic training. The skills learned here are not only applicable to Guardian Response but also translate to other large-scale operations, including combat environments."

Brig. Gen. Christopher W. Cook, commanding general of the 78th TD, highlighted the importance of realistic training and the challenges faced during GR 24.

"Everything we do here is training," said Brig. Gen. Cook. "A significant challenge for military personnel is adapting from a military chain of command to an incident command structure led by civilian authorities. This exercise fosters strong collaboration between military and civilian leadership teams, ensuring a unified response effort."

GR 24 incorporated a variety of training tools to maximize realism. These included mannequins programmed to simulate injuries and distress, as well as over 250 civilian role-players acting as survivors in a contaminated environment.

This year's exercise focused on a simulated nuclear attack, a worst-case scenario designed to provide Soldiers with the most valuable and realistic training possible. The 78th TD successfully executed GR 24 throughout the month of April 2024, ensuring all participating units received comprehensive training in a challenging urban environment.