INDIAN HEAD, Md. --
Adm. James A. Winnefeld, Jr., commander of U.S. Northern Command, visited the Chemical Biological Incident Response Force, Sept. 23, 2010, enhancing his understanding of the unit’s roles and capabilities in an operational capacity.
The day began with a command brief, followed by a tour of the Downey Responder Training Facility aboard Naval Surface Warfare Center Stump Neck, Md. During the tour, CBIRF Marines and sailors demonstrated operational procedures, which were explained by subject matter experts.
CBIRF is a force of technically-skilled Marines and sailors, highly trained in the disciplines of search and rescue. They also train to identify, counter and react to chemical or biological weapons, high-yield explosive incidents or natural disaster.
“Their ability to respond quickly to one of these events, to rescue citizens in danger in a stressful environment is one of the most unique capabilities our nation has,” Winnefeld said.
The unit works alongside other first responders to include fire departments and the Secret Service. They train around the clock to sharpen their ability to mitigate and identify threats, as well as skills in extraction, decontamination and other specialties such as explosive ordinance disposal.
Their ability to work with civilian agencies gives the Marines an edge whenever they are called upon to keep people safe, said Capt. Virgil N. Usana, CBIRF future operations officer.
“We are constantly training all over the U.S.,” Usana said. “Last February, we were deployed in support of the 2010 Olympics.”
The unit is made up of sailors and Marines from various occupational specialties. Every Marine, even those in support roles such as motor transportation and administration, must undergo the CBIRF Basic Operations Course.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for Marines to step out of their element,” said Cpl. Paul A. Gomez, a CBIRF motor transportation operator. “I’m a motor-t guy, but I can extract and decontaminate victims at an operator’s level. Here, every Marine is an extractor.”
He added that CBIRF is not just an asset to the Corps, but to the entire nation.