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Wisconsin National Guard conducts CERF-P training exercise

An evaluator looks on as members of the Wisconsin National Guard Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear Enhanced Response Force Package (CERF-P) conduct a search and extraction mission Aug. 17, 2021, at Volk Field, Wis. The CERF-P is evaluated every two years to maintain and validate its readiness.

An evaluator looks on as members of the Wisconsin National Guard Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear Enhanced Response Force Package (CERF-P) conduct a search and extraction mission Aug. 17, 2021, at Volk Field, Wis. The CERF-P is evaluated every two years to maintain and validate its readiness.

VOLK FIELD, Wis. – Soldiers and Airmen of the Wisconsin Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear Enhanced Response Force Package (CERF-P) conducted a collective training exercise for their biannual external evaluation at Volk Field Aug. 16-18.

The CERF-P, a group of Army and Air National Guard units, validated its readiness to perform all its key tasks – demonstrating its readiness for a worst-case scenario.

The CERF-P is available to incident commanders in Wisconsin and across the region to respond to a variety of scenarios that include contaminated environments and collapsed structures.

External evaluations ensure that CERF-P’s are properly staffed, equipped, trained and ready to respond.

“Without this training and evaluation, a lot of things would get missed,” said Sgt. 1st Class Nicholas Barna, a combat engineer with the 273rd Engineer Company. “A lot of little details like the delegation of duties need to get hammered out at the squad level because we change out so often.”

Over five days, Guard members walked through a full-scale exercise that simulated a mustard gas attack within a city hall.

The Wisconsin CERF-P element was evaluated on the execution of their mission requirements by West Virginia National Guard Army Interagency Training and Evaluation Center representatives.

 “This event helps us be able to show how well we’ve been training, and it verifies what we’ve been doing throughout the past year and a half,” said Capt. Jeff Kohler, commander of search and extraction operations for the CERF-P. “In the end, it gives us a validation that if a situation like this happens in real life, we’re trained and proficient in our tasks to perform as we need to in order to protect and save our community.”

The CERF-P includes Wisconsin Army National Guard combat engineers from the 273rd Engineer Company, which forms the search and extraction element; the 457th Chemical Company, the decontamination element; a command and control element from the 641st Troop Command Battalion; and an Air National Guard contingent comprising a medical element, a fatality search and recovery team, and communications element from the 115th Fighter Wing.

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