A paper by Col. Fred J. Burpo, U.S. Army 20th CBRN Support Command, USA

Background: Adversaries will continue to look to the use of CBRNE capabilities as a way to maintain an asymmetric advantage over U.S. forces, as well as our allied and coalition partners. Adversaries will use CBRNE threats to shape the operating environment to 1) inflict casualties, 2) create conditions to deter or defeat entry operations, and 3) erode public support and the basic will to fight. While difficulty in the acquisition, development, and delivery of threats increases from Chemical to Biological to Radiological to Nuclear, with low-yield explosives remaining cheap and easy, accelerating technological advancement and communication will enable greater ease in development and employment. This includes not only single threat types, but also more complex hybrid CBRNE threats delivered in parallel or serial within a given area of operations.

Challenges: The 20th CBRNE Command, the Department of the Army’s only formation with specialized CBRN and EOD capabilities, proposes to meet the challenges of the rapidly changing strategic environment, as well as the intent of the Quadrennial Defense Review and the directives of the Army Strategic Planning Guidance, by task organizing the functionally organized Command into three multi-functional CBRNE Brigade Task Forces, each enabled with robust CBRNE planning and coordinating expertise and technical reach-back capabilities. This change to mission command within the 20th CBRNE Command immediately delivers more flexible and capable regionally focused CBRNE forces; mitigates the challenges of historical ad hoc solutions to similar and anticipated future mission sets, and overcomes the Command’s current unity of command and unity of effort challenges resulting from our widely distributed basing construct and complex mission profiles.

Solution: The construct of three, multi-functional CBRNE Brigade Task Forces ensures that our forces are properly organized, focused, positioned and prepared to respond globally to ever-evolving CBRNE threats. CBRNE Brigade Task Forces will integrate tailorable and scalable forces to address the full range CBRNE threats and hazards. This CBRNE Task Force concept has been repeatedly trained and tested at the Army’s Combat Training Centers at both Fort Irwin, CA and Fort Polk, LA. The lessons learned during these major training events continue to inform and refine the CBRNE task force concept.

Impact: This task organization change immediately improves the adaptability and flexibility in employing our scarce CBRN and EOD resources, by creating three Brigade-sized task forces with similar capabilities, while providing unity of command and unity of effort across regionally based and focused formations. This construct further increases our tactical and operational capabilities through the integration of echeloned mission command and technical reachback, which effectively links forward CBRNE elements and formations with the technical expertise of the 20th CBRNE Command Staff, and other members of the CBRNE community of interest. It is imperative that the 20th CBRNE Command is able to provide the Army, and the Nation with Ready, Reliable and Globally Responsive CBRNE forces capable of leading and executing CBRNE related operations and activities, anytime and anywhere. Task organizing the 20th CBRNE Command into three, multi-functional, regionally aligned CBRNE Brigade Task Forces is an important step in meeting the Army’s Strategic Planning Guidance for this one-of-a-kind formation and provides our Army and our Nation an immediately improved solution for delivering integrated CBRNE capacity to meet expeditionary and campaign requirements.

Please access the Full Paper by clicking on the following link: Burpo – NCT CBRNe USA 2015

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