The Michigan National Guard’s 460th Chemical Company (Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear) is based at Fort Custer Training Center in Augusta. The company’s higher headquarters is the 631st Troop Command based at the MING Joint Forces Headquarters in Lansing.
The 460th was officially organized Sept. 1, 2009 and was federally recognized in September 2011 as the 460th Chemical Company (Combat Support) and later renamed the 460th Chemical Company (Maneuver Support).
According to the Michigan Army National Guard Modified Table of Organization and Equipment, the 460th “parent” mission is to provide chemical, radiological, nuclear reconnaissance, surveillance, decontamination and consequence management assistance to support U. S. military forces.
Within a year of federal recognition, the 460th Chemical Company began receiving equipment to train for their war-trace CBRN mission.
“In May 2013 the 460th CBRN Company was informed that they would be training for a new mission as the chemical company for C2CRE (the command and control response element); having the responsibility of conducting mass casualty decontamination and CBRN assessment in a [defense in support of civilian authorities] environment,” said Capt. Christopher Graham who served as company commander from August 2012 to June 2014.
One of the responsibilities of the C2CRE is to support local and federal first responders during a chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear incident.
To compliment the monthly training assemblies and hone their preparedness skills, the 460th has quarterly sustainment exercises at Fort Custer Training Center, Camp Grayling Joint Maneuver Training Center or Camp Atterbury, Indiana. Next year, the company is scheduled to train at Fort Polk, Louisiana.
The 460th has four platoons; three platoons are mass-casualty personnel (decontamination) and one platoon is trained as reconnaissance personnel. The unit has an authorized strength of more than 100 Soldiers who train to ensure they are prepared to deploy to the vicinity of a CBRN incident site within 96 hours in order to save lives, minimize human suffering and provide critical support to enable community recovery.
Sgt. 1st Class Dan Thomas is a full time employee with the 460th and serves as the C2CRE noncommissioned officer in charge and decontamination platoon sergeant.
The unit’s C2CRE mission is expected to last through 2016. Because the 460th members augment civilian first responders, most of the company’s assigned equipment is “civilian-off-the-shelf” in order to maintain continuity with their counterparts. The 460th is also assigned light medium tactical vehicles, MTVs, and Humvees.
“Next month the 460th will begin fielding NBC reconnaissance vehicles,” said Thomas. “Our next mission will be to provide mounted and dismounted hazard assessment,” he continued. “It is basically the same mission but the mounted will include the reconnaissance vehicle which is more geared for war-time mission. If we have an opponent or enemy who has used or is suspected to use chemical, nuclear or biological weapons, this vehicle would allow us to assess and/or identify the hazard, as well as the size of the areas affected while keeping Soldiers isolated and protected from the threat.”
The 460th Soldiers have a few different military occupational skills, including chemical operations specialists, maintenance, supply and signal support specialists.
The 460th’s current C2CRE mission is domestic but when the mission is done, the 460th CBRN Company will revert to their organic mission and will be deployable to support federal overseas missions if ordered.
Former commander Graham considers the 460th Company members as “subject matter experts for the Michigan National Guard in the area of chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear preparedness, identification, response and training.”