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By Sgt. 1st Class Jason Alvarez
Vermont National Guard Public Affairs
The Vermont National Guard’s 15th Civil Support Team hosted six Soldiers from North Macedonia for civil support training at Camp Johnson in Colchester, June 6 -11th.
The North Macedonia Army soldiers were from a Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Battalion and came to Vermont to conduct exercises with the Vermont National Guard’s 15th CST.
The soldiers were observing the tactics, techniques, and procedures the 15th CST uses to support civilian authorities in the event of a disaster. That support can be advising on response measures, assisting with requests for additional assets, and providing immediate response to hazardous material releases that could result in catastrophic loss of life or property.
“The cross-training conducted was a joint entry with them, first one actually integrating with each other, very cool milestone, where we would do one part and they would take over for the other,” explained Sgt. 1st Class Jesse Smith, a recon non-commissioned officer with the 15th CST. “We do an initial reconnaissance of the target building to see what hazards/threats are present.”
The Soldiers were conducting lane training at Camp Johnson for chemical detection, assessing consequences of the incident, and advising civil authorities, which in this exercise was the Vermont State Police and Vermont Department of Health.
“After the recon team comes out and goes through decontamination, they meet with the sampling team, operations section and our science officer to determine what and where the sample team took samples from,” said Smith as he explained the next steps of their exercise. “We would also take duplicate samples for our science officer and medical NCO to run in the Analytical Laboratory System vehicle to get a presumptive analysis. We also discussed how they would improve our setup and methods.”
The Soldiers from North Macedonia had the opportunity to discuss with 15th CST’s civilian partners, the Vermont State Police and the Vermont Department of Health, about their relationships and how they support each other.
Capt. Dave Peterson, with the Vermont State Police explained to the soldiers that the 15th CST helps enhance and augment his team for the missions that they do.
The intent of this kind of exercise was to assist North Macedonia Soldiers as they look to create a similar CST style unit to work with their own civil authorities.
“Their procedures are very good,” said Smith talking about the North Macedonia soldiers. “They have a harder job than our civil support team, they have to support both the military and civilian agencies.”
This was one of the many exchanges the Vermont National Guard and North Macedonia perform every year.
“It’s always great hosting fellow Soldiers from North Macedonia,” said Maj. Gen. Greg Knight, Vermont Adjutant General. “Our Civil Support Team and our partner Soldiers from North Macedonia always do a great job sharing their experience, so this training exchange was mutually beneficial. These events are really how we sustain our partnership.”
Vermont and North Macedonia have been partners since 1993 in the State Partnership Program (SPP), administered by the National Guard Bureau. The State Partnership Program facilitates engagements between militaries, governments, and promotes economic and social engagement.