US National Guard CST units participate in ORCA CBRN training exercise

May 17, 2021 (Last Updated May 17th, 2021 16:41)

The US Army’s National Guard Civil Support Teams are set to participate in biannual exercise ORCA 2021.

US National Guard CST units participate in ORCA CBRN training exercise
Members of the Michigan National Guard’s 51st Civil Support Team. Credit: Senior Airman Tristan Viglianco.

The US Army has started the biannual chemical, biological, radioactive, nuclear (CBRN) threats response exercise, known as ‘ORCA 2021’.

To be held 17-21 May, the exercise will see ‘participants respond to hazardous materials scenarios, and test interoperability’ between different agencies.

The National Guard’s Civil Support Team (CST) units from 11 US states will take part in the ORCA 2021 exercise along with local emergency responders and other US National Guard units.

Over 400 military and civilian members will be involved in ORCA-21, including about 300 National Guard members.

The CST units will be trained at different locations, including the Mat-Su Fire Training Facility, Anchorage Fire Training Facility, University of Alaska-Anchorage campus, Port of Alaska Anchorage, Port of Seward, as well as the Alaska Railroad in Seward.

The units support state and federal authorities in the event of domestic nuclear, biological or chemical incidents by identifying agents and substances, and assisting with additional military support requests.

Planning and execution of the exercise have been facilitated by the 196th Infantry Brigade, US Army Pacific.

The Alaska National Guard’s 207th aviation battalion and the Joint Operations Centre are also participating in ORCA-21.

The exercise will also involve participation of 176th Civil Engineer Squadron’s Emergency Management section.

Other participating local agencies and organisations include the Alaska Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, Matanuska-Susitna Emergency Management, Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, Major Marine Tours, Alaska Railroad, Anchorage Fire Department, Alaska State Emergency Operations Center, and University of Alaska-Anchorage.

Port of Seward and the Port of Alaska-Anchorage will also support the exercise.