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Thursday, April 16, 2015
Members of the Homeland Response Force train in Cheektowaga in this November photo. The HRF trained Wednesday and today in New Jersey. (CONTRIBUTED PHOTO)


NIAGARA FALLS — More than Western New York 150 Citizen Soldiers and Airmen of the New York National Guard deployed to Joint Base Maguire-Dix-Lakehurst Wednesday and today for a unit full-scale exercise in disaster response.

The Soldiers and Airmen were part of a regional disaster response force trained to respond to a Chemical, Biological, Radiological or Nuclear (CBRN) incident. The complete force included some 600 personnel and is known as a National Guard Homeland Response Force (HRF).

The Western New York elements included the 2nd Squadron, 101st Cavalry headquarters as the command element of the CBRN response task force with members of Company A, 427th Brigade Special Troops Battalion conducting search and extraction and Company D, 427th Brigade Support Battalion as the decontamination element. More than a dozen Airmen of the 107th Airlift Wing also support the HRF with medical or communications personnel.

The Homeland Response Force is one of 10 established by the Department of Defense to serve as a CBRN response force. It consists of about 600 Soldiers and Airmen of the National Guard with expertise in search and extraction of disaster victims, incident site security, decontamination, medical treatment and command and control of the mission.

The Soldiers and Airmen trained at a simulated disaster site to search for and extract victims of a notional incident while wearing hazardous materials suits, decontaminate those victims if needed, and conduct basic medical triage to assist first responders and health officials.

The major units that comprise the HRF include:
  • The 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team Headquarters, based in Syracuse, which provides more than 190 Soldiers for overall command and control of the force.
  • The 2nd Squadron, 101st Cavalry Headquarters, based in Niagara Falls, providing about 16 Soldiers to command the CBRN response elements at the incident site.
  • About 50 Engineers of Company A, 427th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, located in Lockport, who train for the extraction and evacuation of casualties.
  • Company D, 427th Brigade Support Battalion, based in Buffalo, whose 75 Soldiers operate the decontamination element.
  • The air wings of the New York Air National Guard, including Niagara Falls' 107th Airlift Wing and the Scotia-based 109th Airlift Wing, the 105th Airlift Wing in Newburgh and 106th Rescue Wing from Westhampton Beach on Long Island contribute more than 50 medical personnel for the triage and transfer of casualties for civilian medical treatment.
  • Security personnel from the New Jersey National Guard include some 200 members of the 2nd Battalion, 113th Infantry from Riverdale, N.J. as the HRF CBRN Assistance and Support Element.
The 10 HRFs align with each Federal Emergency Management Agency region to allow for closer and more familiar contact with civilian responders. The National Guard forces also provide a greater responsiveness to local authorities due to their closer geographical locations.

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