Special response force passes key readiness inspection

RICHMOND, Virginia – The Richmond-based 34th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and high-yield Explosive Enhanced Response Force Package, pronounced “Surf-P,” achieved an important milestone toward becoming a certified asset to first responders by scoring 95% on a demanding, two-day National Guard Bureau Standardization, Evaluation and Assistance Team, or SEAT, inspection May 23, 2019. The results of the inspection were briefed at the Virginia National Guard’s Sergeant Bob Slaughter Headquarters at Defense Supply Center Richmond, Virginia.

“The [Standardization, Evaluation and Assistance Team] inspection assures Congress and the [Department of Defense] of adequate program oversight,” said Lt. Col. Richard L. Harrison, commander of the 34th CERFP. “The team also assesses the organization’s degree of compliance with federal law and policy.”

The inspection covers 535 individual evaluated items, to earn an “In Compliance” evaluation the organization is required to meet the requirements of at least 509 items. To be considered “In Compliance, with comments” the organization needs at least 428 to be evaluated as a “Go.” The evaluated items are organized into four function areas: Budget, Medical, Logistics, and Operations and Training. Each area is heavily scrutinized and as part of the evaluation, each of the four functional areas must score above 80% compliance.

“I think the best part of the [Standardization, Evaluation and Assistance Team] inspection was that the evaluators travel the entire country and see all the other states, so when they’ve seen something that works really well, they share it with the rest of us,” said Capt. Christopher P. Hungerford, operations officer of the 34th CERFP.

Different than most inspections, the evaluators provide assistance to the states tasked with the CERFP mission. One of their goals is to develop and foster programs designed to maintain capabilities of compliance.

“I believe that the 34th CERFP should be the most inspected and evaluated organization within the Virginia National Guard,” Harrison said. “Our mission and great responsibility to America demands nothing less than our excellence.”

The inspection is required every 36 months and is the first step of a three-phase evaluation of the organization’s readiness to respond to catastrophic chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear incidents across the U. S. The second step, a full-scale, limited-notice Deployment Readiness Exercise, is scheduled for early 2020. That will be  followed almost immediately by the last step, an External Evaluation of all training tasks, in May of 2020.

The 34th CERFP is a component of the Virginia National Guard that is headquartered at the S. Gardner Waller Depot, in Richmond, Virginia. More than 200 Soldiers and Airmen across Virginia and the District of Columbia make up the Joint Task Force, including a small command and control element from Soldiers assigned to the Richmond-based Joint Force Headquarters-Virginia; a mass casualty decontamination element from Soldiers assigned to the Rocky Mount-based 229th Chemical Company; a search and extraction element from Soldiers assigned to the Powhatan-based 180th Engineer Support Company; a medical triage and stabilization element from Airmen assigned to the Langley-based Detachment 1, 192nd Medical Group; a communications element from the Langley-based 192nd Communications Flight; and a fatality recovery team from the Suitland-based 113th Force Support Squadron, D.C. Air National Guard.