Recently, troops with the 46th Military Police Command of the Michigan National Guard began a three-year effort to respond to a chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear attack in Detroit, the Army Times reported.
“A key role of Task Force 46 and elements of the MP command is decontaminating those exposed to toxic elements in the CBRN environment. Local agencies, from city to state government and emergency response units, lead their respective areas, but Army assets can hit certain needs at a large scale.
“As you go, the intent is to fill larger gaps rather than take over,” said Robert Naething, deputy to the commanding general of U.S. Army North, which oversees such Army responses inside the United States.
Maj. Gen. Michael Stone, commanding general of the 46th MP Command and the task force, stated that Task Force 46’s critical mission is mass decontamination and urban search and rescue.
“There have been similar training exercises with New York City and units at nearby Fort Hamilton, but the Detroit exercise is of a new type of planning between Army Forces Command and the Guard.”
There are ongoing efforts to partner with cities such as Atlanta, Chicago, Phoenix and Cleveland in the coming years so that command groups from the various Guard units and Army North can build out their plans and better coordinate with the local contacts in each area.
But, since it is inside the U.S., the chain of command is somewhat different than in wartime scenarios.
“We’re never in charge, we’re always in support,” Naething said. “Either FEMA or DHS is typically in charge.”