|By Sgt. 1st Class Darrin McDufford, 88th Regional
Bodies were strewn throughout the building as the
Special Weapons and Tactics team pursued an assailant running through a
local office building shooting down whoever crossed his path, while a
lucky few remained unscathed as they cowered under their desks.
What would you do if you were faced with an active shooter who also has
been suspected of releasing chemicals in the ventilation system? How
about those around you, or, even more importantly, the law enforcement
Participants in the Red Dragon
exercise at Fort McCoy respond during a critical incident
exercise. The exercise helped test communication among
responders, on-site incident management, public safety and
The Red Dragon exercise, an event stressing homeland security and
defense, was held in late June at Fort McCoy and several other locations
across the country to include a massive training event in a Chicago
The Chicago event involved nearly 600 people. More than 100 Soldiers,
about 200 emergency responders and nearly 300 others participated in
support roles and as actors for the training exercise that pulled many
resources together to counter a chemical, biological, radioactive,
nuclear and high-yield explosive (CBRNE) disaster scenario.
Throughout the 10 years Red Dragon has taken place, it has grown and
focused on the changes in technology and available information.
About 2,700 Soldiers participated in the 2010 exercise in five states
including Alabama, Illinois, South Carolina, Georgia and Wisconsin.
Red Dragon’s main objective is to help the civilian communities realize
federal assets are available to help.
These units pulled resources collectively on how to treat casualties,
conduct reconnaissance and decontaminate people.
“Training is the bedrock of success for our Soldiers, who are a part of
the communities they serve. Their military prowess is enhanced by skills
they use in their everyday jobs,” said Brig. Gen. Bert K. Mizusawa,
exercise director and deputy commanding general of the 335th Signal
Red Dragon exercise participants
conduct triage and pre-hospital medical treatment during a
critical incident exercise at Fort McCoy. The training also
addressed hazardous materials response and decontamination
“This exercise helped improve their role in providing seamless
support to operations by federal, state and local authorities during an
emergency response to a large-scale CBRNE disaster,” he said.
This year’s Red Dragon scenario was chosen, in part, to represent a
possible realistic situation that could occur. Its goal was to give
Soldiers a significant representation of what they could face.
Should this situation occur the military would need to respond within
24-48 hours. Local responders would have to react much more quickly but
they can feel confident that others have their back to fill in to assist
in a mass-casualty situation, Mizusawa said.
Participants who portrayed victims may have seen themselves as just
actors but they experienced what possibly could happen and saw,
firsthand, the rapid response available to assist the local authorities.
“Civilian first-responders don’t have the numbers to support this. This
is labor-intensive and expensive,” said Sgt. Maj. Robert L. Mihelic of
the 415th Chemical Brigade. “This exercise stresses the importance of
the relationship between civilian and military assets.”
“The exercise goal is to pull together the HAZMAT (hazard material)
recon(naissance), mass casualty and decon(tamination) skills so we can
better support the civilian first- responders,” Mihelic stressed as the
overall objective of this exercise.
Four units participated locally in Red Dragon, and included the 366th
Military Police Company, 411th Chemical Company, 405th Casualty Support
Hospital and the 479th Chemical Brigade.
Spc. Christopher Velez, who has been in the Army for one year and also
is a retired New York City police officer with experience in a chemical
biological training section, said, “If something like this was to
happen, some type of radiologic release, the civilian teams might be
hesitant. A key aspect is that the Army Reserve, National Guard, active
Army, all the military forces train for this to provide support. We’re
here to help. This is a key element because not everyone can afford to
have a hazardous materials team.”
Mizusawa concluded, “The Army Reserve is recognized as America’s premier
reservoir of shared military-civilian skills and has capabilities that
support and defend the nation.”