The 185th Military Police (MP) Battalion, 49th MP Brigade, California National Guard, took advantage of training at the Center for Domestic Preparedness (CDP) recently. The battalion spent two weeks in Anniston, Ala., honing their skills employing crowd control measures, countering protester tactics, learning to manage incidents and performing their military police duties in an area contaminated with chemical and/or biological hazards.

“This is excellent training for our soldiers. The first thing I observed is how engaged, interested, and how challenging our soldiers found the training,” said Col. Kelly Fisher, brigade commander. “They love this kind of training and it gives them perspective of what may be expected of them if and when they get called up for a domestic response. Our number one priority when called upon is saving lives and mitigating human suffering and loss of critical infrastructure. The CDP is key to ensuring we are well prepared for these potential events.”

U.S. Army National Guard units support their respective states throughout the nation. Guard units provide a variety of state support to include engineering, urban search and rescue, law enforcement, firefighting support and healthcare. The mix of talent and technologically skilled Guard members create units that are ready to support their region. Most importantly, they are assets to the emergency responders in cities across the United States.

“An emergency incident will involve several different aspects of public safety—from fire to police to healthcare,” said Lt. Col. Robert Paoletti, commanding officer of the 185th Military Police. “Having a place where we can train and experience different scenarios in a contaminated environment is great. We trained with all disciplines, learning a common set of operations and we all left with a better understanding of the [National Incident Management System], making our unit better in our HRF (Homeland Response Force) role supporting our state.”

The United States has established 10 HRFs selected to support each of the 10 FEMA regions. The National Guard and Air National Guard are the primary HRF members and assume roles based on current threats with a principal focus on Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear response.

The unit’s primary role in California is to support civilian authorities and quickly respond to emergencies. The battalion trains to provide disaster relief following earthquakes, fires, floods and terrorist events or civil unrest.

“I understand more about the roles and responsibilities at different levels,” said Spc. James Hernandez. “This was my second time to train at the CDP and I left with more confidence then;, this time it is even better. Observing the different levels of response and working more closely with the command structure was my biggest takeaway.”

The 185th sent more than 110 soldiers to CDP training—all part of the state’s HRF. The unit collectively attended more than 10 courses over the two-week period and completed their training cycle by participating in an Integrated Capstone Event (ICE). The ICE is a one-of-a-kind training experience that blends multiple courses and disciplines into a single end-of-course exercise.

“This is a great way to utilize skills and implement them with civilian agencies especially in the ICE,” said Sgt. 1st Class Jessamyn Sobeckiengle. “We started at a rapid pace and every class built on the next. This is going to enhance our capability to perform as a civil support unit in the state of California.”

“Classes like these where we work together and observe other first response capabilities are a large benefit,” said 1st Lt. Antomia Ambrie. “Communication is important and when there are multiple levels of response, terminology must be consistent. The courses demonstrated how we fit into the response picture and communicate with each other and the state and locals.”

The CDP incorporates realistic venues into its hands-on training. Updated training areas enhance a modern learning environment including sound effects, role players performing in mass demonstrations, protester extrication tools, and training in a toxic environment using nerve agents GB (Sarin) and VX and biological materials, anthrax and ricin. The scenarios simulate the rescue of citizens, illegal demonstrations, evidence preservation and locating and identifying the toxic substances.

“I enjoyed the level of instruction and experience from the instructors,” said Sgt. John Lafaver. “We spent very little time in the classroom and were hands-on most of the time. I definitely feel more prepared. Anyone coming here, with the level of instruction and with the way this program is run, will find it impossible to walk away and not learn. More need to take advantage.”

The CDP plays a leading role in preparing state, local, and tribal responders to prepare for and respond to man made events or major accidents involving hazardous or toxic materials, to include mass casualties.

Under Title 32 (state support) mission, National Guard soldiers and airmen are eligible to attend fully funded training at the CDP. Department of Homeland Security funds the training, the students’ travel, lodging and meals. To learn more about the Center for Domestic Preparedness, visit http://cdp.dhs.gov or call 866-213-9553.