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Medical group stands up CERFP detachment under command of Howell

Lt. Col. Christopher Howell, right, assumes command of the newly formed 123rd Medical Group Detachment 1, CERFP by accepting the unit’s guidon from Col. Michael Cooper, commander of the 123rd Medical Group, during a ceremony at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., Jan. 9, 2016. The detachment is the medical component of a joint Kentucky National Guard disaster response team. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech Sgt. Vicky Spesard)

Lt. Col. Christopher Howell, right, assumes command of the newly formed 123rd Medical Group Detachment 1, CERFP by accepting the unit’s guidon from Col. Michael Cooper, commander of the 123rd Medical Group, during a ceremony at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., Jan. 9, 2016. The detachment is the medical component of a joint Kentucky National Guard disaster response team. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech Sgt. Vicky Spesard)

KENTUCKY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Lt. Col. Christopher Howell assumed command of the Kentucky Air National Guard's newly formed 123rd Medical Group Detachment 1, CERFP during a ceremony here Jan. 9.

The guidon for the detachment was passed to Howell by Col. Michael Cooper, commander of the 123rd Medical Group, who extolled Howell's performance and his expectations for the future of the unit.

"This is a big day for Chris," Cooper said. "It is well deserved and well earned. It's a greater day for all of us at the medical group and Detachment 1. It's a very special event when a military unit stands up and comes into existence. I am so proud of all of you and your accomplishments, and I am going to task you to build on these accomplishments and continue this path of excellence."

The Air Guard detachment is one component of a CERFP, or Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and high-yield explosive Enhanced Response Force Package.

The CERFP is comprised of medical personnel and teams that execute search-and-recovery, decontamination, command-and-control, and communications functions. In addition to Air Guardsmen, the CERFP includes soldiers from the Kentucky Army National Guard.

Their mission is to provide immediate response capability to the governor of a state affected by a terrorist or enemy attack. They would search an incident site, rescue and decontaminate casualties, and provide medical treatment to stabilize patients for transport to a medical facility.

Since 2010 when the CERFP stood up, the Kentucky Army National Guard has provided the majority of the personnel and was operationally in command when the unit was deployed, while a medical element from the Kentucky Air Guard provided support under the command of Howell.

With the standing up of Howell's new detachment, the mission takes on a more joint posture.

"Army and Air stands together as a unified front," said Howell while addressing the members of the detachment attending the ceremony. "I believe the relationship that the Kentucky Army and Air National Guard have sets the standard for all other CERFPs to achieve. I look forward to our continued relationship and success."