News: Nevada Guard helps ring in the New Year in Vegas
Story by Sgt. Walter Lowell
LAS VEGAS – Army and Air Force National Guard service members join forces with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and the Transportation Security Administration in a joint domestic training exercise to support civil authorities at key locations around the city and McCarran International Airport from Dec. 30, 2013, to the early morning of Jan. 1, 2014.
Service members from the 485th Military Police Company, the 152nd Security Forces Squadron, 140th Aviation Detachment and support operation personnel from the 17th Sustainment Brigade all took part in this exercise called Operation Vigilant Sentinel, said Army Master Sgt. Robert M. Hahn, from the 17th STB, the noncommissioned officer in charge of the Tactical Operations Center for the operation.
The exercise is to support DSCA or Defense Support of Civil Authorities, said Brig. Gen William R. Burks, the adjutant general of Nevada. It trains the National Guard battle staff to interact with civilian agencies.
DSCA is the process where U.S. military assets and service members carry out missions that are normally done by civilian agencies. These missions include but are not limited to natural disasters, law enforcement support and other domestic activities.
“The National Guard is the hometown militia,” said Burks. “For the citizens of the great state of Nevada, We’re here for them.”
It will allow guardsmen to train side-by-side with local police and security, said Hahn.
“It’s really exciting, you get a lot of experience,” said Senior Airman Christopher J. Adams, Security Forces specialist with the 152nd Security Forces Squadron, Nevada Air Guard. You get to work with a lot of different individuals that have been trained in different ways, but coming together to do the same mission.”
The National Guard is in key locations all over the city, said Hahn. The 140th Aviation unit has even set up helicopter casualty evacuation points in the city if there had been a real world emergency.
More than 200 National Guard service members have been called up, as part of their service obligation, to take part in this exercise, said Hahn.
The operation is taking part in the backdrop of one of the busiest times in Las Vegas, the New Year celebration as it had for years past. Every year, more than 300,000 people flock to the Las Vegas valley to ring in the New Year.
Having this exercise in conjunction with the New Year celebration has an added benefit, said Hahn. The presence of uniformed personnel in public view brings a better sense of security.
A majority of people seem to feel comfortable if not a little wary when they see Military personnel in the airport, said Adams.
This exercise is only a starting point as a joint operation between the local government and the National Guard, said Burks. He believes that the National Guard should pursue other venues to expand its support.
“I believe that if anything were to happen, God forbid, that given our training and what we do, we will be able to respond reflexively,” said Adams.