National Guard Holds 'Dirty Bomb' Sweep Exercise at New Jersey's CURE Insurance Arena

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The National Guard last month held a simulation exercise at the CURE Insurance Arena in Trenton, N.J., aimed at finding a hypothetical nuclear dirty bomb planted by domestic terrorists. 

"The FBI has just received intelligence that a well-resourced domestic terrorist group has planted bombs, including one with cesium-137 – a radioactive isotope –in the arena," was the context the military provided for the exercise. "The entire structure, from the catwalks crisscrossing above the floor; the various rooms and suites; the concession stands; the service areas; everything has to be searched.The clock is ticking."

The exercise involved the entire structure being searched, from the catwalks crisscrossing above the floor to the rooms and suites, the concession stands and the service areas.

The joint chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and high-yield explosives characterization, exploitation and mitigation course brought together Soldiers and Airmen from the New Jersey National Guard’s 21st Weapons of Mass Destruction-Civil Support Team, the 31st WMD-CST, Delaware National Guard, and the 101st WMD-CST, Idaho National Guard. Also participating were explosive ordnance disposal technicians from the 177th Fighter Wing, New Jersey Air National Guard; U.S. Coast Guardsmen from the Atlantic Strike Team; New Jersey State Police; the New Jersey Department of Corrections, FBI special agent bomb technicians and an FBI weapons of mass destruction coordinator.

“The whole intent of the course is interoperability at the operations level,” said Carrie Hiser Sivley, president, Eniwetok Group, LLC, the contractor running the course. “We’re talking about the folks that are on the ground that are actually out doing the work, that do the sweeps, that do the responses.”

That means when WMD-CST units do their sweeps and encounter certain hazards, they know who to contact to remedy them so they can continue their sweeps.

The participants spent the first two days of the National Guard Bureau-funded course in the classroom reviewing responses to chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive threats.

On March 27, the participants assembled in four groups at the CURE Insurance Arena for the hands-on training.

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