Thanks to some new equipment, the Army Reserve’s only civil support team can get to an incident site faster and communicate better with other disaster responders.
The 773rd Civil Support Team took a step forward in readiness by adding two top-of-the-line communications vehicles, which they unveiled during a ribbon-cutting ceremony Aug. 10 on Panzer Kaserne.
The new trucks, loaded with the latest in communication equipment, will help speed the unit’s response and enhance communication with U.S. and international disaster responders, said Col. U.L. Armstrong Jr., 773rd CST commander.
The 773rd CST’s mission is to respond to chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or explosive incidents in Europe or Africa. The unit can detect and identify a CBRNE contaminant and also assess the situation and advise the commander on courses of action, he said.
So now, the unit can analyze a sample and communicate those results to whoever needs to know faster than ever before.
“It’s the enabler for all the other functional areas to synchronize what we’ve analyzed,” Armstrong said.
One of the vehicles called an Advanced Echelon Vehicle, or ADVON for short, is the first piece of equipment the 773rd will send out to a CBRN incident, he added.
Within 30 minutes after the unit assembles for a response, the ADVON should be on its way to the site, said Master Sgt. Desmond Burgess, the 773rd CST communication chief.
When the commander arrives onsite, the ADVON becomes his command vehicle, and it’s equipped to support multiple means of communication with other U.S. or international responders.
“It’s my interoperable com-muni-cation node for when I arrive on the scene,” Armstrong said. “I can talk to other responders or assist responders with communicating with each other while maintaining reach back to other (continental United States and outside continental United States)-based organizations.”
The other vehicle is a Unified Command Suite. The UCS is used to run an even wider variety of communications and is equipped with a variety of communications capabilities, to include satellite transmissions and secure videoconferencing, Burgess said.
The UCS can’t translate languages, but it can operate on authorized and approved frequencies and networks anywhere in any country, if granted access, said Doug Hosea, the program manager for consequence management communication systems projects.
The new equipment is the latest and most modern to be fielded to any civil support team, said Lt. Col. Sean McMurry, the joint project manager, CBRNE Analytics and Response Systems.
“You’ll be envied by the other CSTs for a while,” he said during the ceremony. “You are breaking new ground by bringing this equipment to the European area of responsibility.”
The Army has 58 CSTs, but the others are in the National Guard. The 773rd CST is the only unit of its kind in the Army Reserve and the only one in Europe.
The communication capabilities will help the commander, whether it’s a local incident command or a commander at the U.S. European Command or U.S. Africa Command level, decide how to deploy troops, McMurry said.
It was three years’ worth of work to get the unit outfitted, he added. The communication equipment augments the laboratory equipment the 773rd received last year.
“When I look back at some of the challenges … the receipt of this equipment is amazing,” Armstrong said.
Col. Alex Wells, the 7th Mission Support Command deputy commanding officer, said the new equipment represents an impressive increase in capability.
“We are truly grateful for this addition to our arsenal of capabilities,”