Domestic Operations: Massachusetts Air National Guard Medical Homeland Response Mission

  • Published
  • By Col. Maureen McCarthy
  • 102nd Medical Group Commander
Hopefully reading this will give everyone a better understanding of the 102nd Medical Group's dual mission of the past few years. The Air National Guard Medical Service (ANGMS) mission has been changing with the operations tempo of the Air Force. Per the Air National Guard Surgeon General, our primary responsibility is the homeland, in a Domestic Operations (DOMOPS) capacity.

ANGMS is the force provider for the Homeland Response Force (HRF) and CBRNE Enhanced Response Force Package (CERF-P). To give a little history, in 2009, the secretary of defense signed Resource Management Decision Number 700 directing the chief of the National Guard Bureau to field faster, more flexible consequence management forces which forced the development of 10 HRFs and 17 CERF-Ps. When directed by proper authority and upon consent of the Governor(s), the HRF is alerted, assembles within six hours, deploys, conducts command and control, security operations, performs search and extraction rescues, decontamination, and medical triage and treatment in order to save lives and mitigate human suffering, and finally returns home to await another mission. We are the Governor's "support" for Domestic Response to a catastrophic disaster.

Previously, the 102nd and 104th Medical Groups combined to fill the role of the medical element of a CERF-P. We have been working in joint operations for more than seven years, training four times a year with the Massachusetts Army National Guard (ARNG) in Reading, Mass., often on off-drill weekends. Now, we staff the Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear Task Force (CBRN TF) of the Region 1 HRF, currently operating at Camp Curtis Guild in Reading. The HRF includes a Brigade-level Command and Control (C2) element, a security element consisting of personnel from Connecticut and Vermont ARNG units, and one CBRN TF, for a total of approximately 550 personnel, approximately 50 of which are ANG Medical. Our medical element is responsible for triaging patients while wearing HAZMAT suits, treating search and extraction personnel, re-triaging decontaminated personnel, and giving life support as needed to other casualties while coordinating transport to higher echelons of care at hospitals local to the CBRNE or natural disaster scene.

Our unit also supports the 102nd Intelligence Wing members on all medical needs, and trains and exercises with the Wing and Massachusetts Military Reservation community in addition to this newer homeland mission. In order to successfully fulfill all of our requirements, we are reducing our footprint on our previous priority, the Expeditionary Medical Support (EMEDS), and we are transitioning to smaller units with faster response capability. Fiscal Year 2013 manpower changes are scheduled to transform all 89 Medical Groups throughout the country. We will all see new Designed Operational Capability (DOC) Statements and Unit Manning Documents (UMDs) hopefully by end of summer. The intention of these new documents is to separate the HRF/CERFP medical element as a separate UMD.

Domestic Operations is here to stay!

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