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

The Alaska National Guard’s 103rd Civil Support Team (CST) took part in the ORCA 2019 exercise along with local emergency responders and other US National Guard CST units.

Units trained at different locations in the Matanuska-Susitna Valley, including the Alaska State Fairgrounds, Palmer Fire and Rescue Training Center, Fire Station 6-2 in Wasilla, and the Alaska Railroad rail crossing at Pittman Road.

Alaska National Guard 103rd CST commander lieutenant colonel Mortrud said: “The goal of the ORCA exercise is to strengthen relationships between local first responders, civil support teams from other states, and the 103rd CST. This training environment is to prepare us in the event of a real-world or human-made disaster.”

This year’s exercise involved over 200 military and civilian personnel, including around 120 National Guardsmen from CST units.

The Alaska National Guard aviation battalion and the Joint Operations Center also participated in ORCA 2019.

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Mortrud added: “The scenarios simulated in the exercise are numerous CBRN laboratory setups, along with the processing of intelligence to determine intended uses and locations for possible attacks. They help ensure the response community not only trusts each other but also understand the capabilities each entity will bring to a real-world event.”

CSTs are responsible for providing support to a local incident commander in determining the nature and extent of a CBRN attack or incident.

The teams also extended support in the form of expert technical advice on response operations.

The ORCA exercise is aimed at enhancing interoperability between different agencies.