Blackstone-based 183rd Regiment RTI welcomes West Virginia’s CST during JRSOI training

Soldiers from the Virginia National Guard's Blackstone-based 183rd Regiment, Regional Training Institute's Remote Reception Team welcome West Virginia's Civil Support Team during Joint, Reception, Staging, Onward movement and Integration training July 24, 2012. The exercise simulates the arrival of outside forces responding to a state-wide emergency and allows the unit receiving outside assistance to gain accountability of personnel and equipment as they enter the state. (Tech. Sgt. Meghan Skrepenski, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

FRONT ROYAL, Va. – Soldiers from the Blackstone-based 183rd Regiment, Regional Training Institute deployed one of their three remote reception teams in support of Joint Reception, Staging, Onward movement and Integration (RSOI) training July 24, 2012. During the training the 183rd welcomed West Virginia’s Saint Albans-based 35th Civil Support Team.

The training was designed to allow Virginia to rapidly and effectively gain command and control over units which are being sent into the Commonwealth for emergency response purposes. Through training scenarios such as this, the Remote Reception Teams can facilitate communications and coordination so as to minimize confusion for the incoming forces, build understanding of the arriving capabilities and reduce the overall time that it takes for the right forces to arrive at the scene when needed.

“We have been sent out to meet inbound units which are coming to coming this state or region,” said Lt. Col. Bryan Coleman, commander of 3rd Battalion, 183rd RTI. “We have the ability to set up a Remote Reception site wherever we are asked to go.”

“We are training to set up a site outside of the affected zone or area, meet the incoming units and establish the initial link up with them as they enter the Commonwealth,” said Coleman. “We should be the first point of contact for them, face to face on the ground. We will collect and verify information on their personnel status, communications capabilities and logistical status. Once we have completed the verification on this essential information, we transmit verification of those reports back to the Joint Operations Center.”

“Our mission is to coordinate the in-bound unit’s movement in accordance with the operating plan or to hold them at our location until the JOC provides us with updated guidance,” said Coleman. “In theory, we could hold that unit in place for a period of time or direct them to a designated are such as Fort Picket to go through formal JRSOI processing and staging, or we could send them into the hot zone or disaster area – whatever the JOC decides is the need at that time.”

The training provides the 183rd RTI Soldiers with the ability to assess and improve their current levels of readiness, to answer many of the logistical questions they may have by getting them practice in responding in a simulated emergency crisis response environment.

“This type of exercise allows us to assess ourselves to ensure we are asking the right questions; things like – do we have the right packing list? How long does it take us to muster people from the point of notification? Can we get our equipment, limited resources, and vehicles divided appropriately amongst the teams with contingency planning? Can we get in place on time to receive those units?” said Coleman.

The live exercise helps get his Soldiers better mentally prepared to respond, overcome the challenges and to take command and control of the situation when the state of Virginia needs emergency assistance from other states, said Coleman.

The 35th CST was headed to the National Capital to conduct further training and was happy to participate in the in-processing training exercise.

“The importance of a JRSOI or staging area for a large terrorist event or a natural disaster event is to have the ability to coordinate all the assets through one central location and then get the appropriate assets to the incident and also allow for accountability of everyone and to help the flow of traffic,” said Maj. Greg Grant, commander of the 35th Civil Support Team.

Grant said that working with the states of Virginia, Delaware, Maryland and units from D.C. and the Capital Police with this type of training leaves his unit and all states involved better prepared to respond to cases of state-wide emergencies.

“Hopefully, we never cross that bridge, but just the opportunity to come in and do a multi-agency event is invaluable training and we look forward to the opportunity to do it,” he said.

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