Nearly 120 soldiers from the California National Guard’s Quick Reaction Force-South spent the first two weeks of August in the Appalachian foothills of northern Alabama undergoing emergency response training at the Center for Domestic Preparedness in Anniston, Ala.
The Center for Domestic Preparedness, or CDP, plays a leading role in preparing the U.S. and its cities to protect and respond to acts of terrorism, catastrophic natural disasters, civil disorders, major accidents involving hazardous or toxic materials and events which result in mass casualties.
Each U.S. state and territory is home to one or more Quick Reaction Forces, or QRFs, which are National Guard units trained to respond to state requests for emergency assistance on short notice. QRFs protect critical infrastructure and also focus efforts on security threats, natural disasters, and civil disturbances in all regions.
“This training is relevant to our current events,” said Brig. Gen. Donald Currier, commander of the California National Guard. “I think the soldiers have been impressed, and I certainly have been impressed by the quality of training. It is exactly what they need to provide the confidence to respond in times of domestic or other emergency situations.”
Nearly 120 soldiers from Southern California’s 330th Military Police Company arrived in Alabama for training in law enforcement as well as chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high yield explosive, or CBRNE, response. The training was meant to help prepare Soldiers to protect citizens and property in the event of an emergency, such as civil disturbances and chemical or biological hazards.
A highlight of the training included a mass casualty triage exercise at the Chemical, Ordnance, Biological, and Radiological training facility. The COBRA training incorporated the simulated use of toxic nerve agents in a safe and secure environment by demonstrating the effectiveness of personal protective equipment while helping to boost soldier confidence while operating in a contaminated environment.
“We are a huge force-multiplier because of this training,” said Capt. Andrew Hanson, 330th MP commander. “After this training, I do not believe there is another unit in California which has the solid foundation for civil-disturbance and crowd-control response in a defense security environment, like the 330th.”
Training also consisted of crowd control, extrication techniques for protesters, and protective measures in response to terrorists or hazardous materials events. According to 1st Sgt. Andraus Williams, company first sergeant and a 21-year veteran of the armed forces, the training benefits not only his Soldiers but all California response agencies.
“This training reinforced our ability to communicate with civilian responders,” Williams said. “We speak one language and can work side-by-side with our civilian counterparts during an emergency response. This is not offered anywhere else and it has made our unit more ready and capable to support our state.”
“I enjoyed the advanced techniques,” said Spec. Michael Esparza, company weapons specialist. “This is above and beyond because of the tools and experience provided. We’ve learned a lot. The training isn’t based on classroom education, it’s based on experience. I would recommend this to all QRFs and homeland response forces.”
According to the Spec. Ashley Jordan, a military policeman and nine-year civilian law enforcement veteran, the CDP training was diverse, versatile, and a good fit into all aspects of emergency response.
“Compared to my military and civilian training, I can tell you that this training fits into any spectrum of law enforcement,” he said. “It can be molded into any environment and was an amazing educational opportunity. I felt ready before I came here, but I feel more empowered and confident in my abilities now.”