News: National Guard begins Vigilant Guard
Story by Sgt. Crystal Reidy
PHOENIX – The Arizona National Guard headquarters and its supporting units are preparing for the U.S. Northern Command and the National Guard Bureau’s Vigilant Guard 2011 exercise on Nov. 3-4 here.
The multi-agency exercise, which includes National Guard units from California, Colorado, Nevada, Minnesota and Utah, are working to improve communication and operational relationships between civilian, federal, tribal and military partners in preparation for several catastrophic emergencies. The events will include simulated widespread flooding, a prison riot and an improvised nuclear device detonation.
Lt. Col. Jack W. Beasley, director of military support, said exercises like Vigilant Guard are necessary because it allows the guard to interface with the state emergency management and local first responders who they normally wouldn’t work with in their normal military training.
“This exercise is something we have never done before at this level with so many agencies,” Beasley said.
First Lt. Brian Estes, an intelligence officer with the 158th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, said the exercise is great practice for how different agencies communicate with each other during a natural disaster and how we should properly respond to these types of scenarios.
One of the first major events of the exercise is the flooding scenario. Arizona has rivers and flood planes that have flooded in the past, said Estes.
“We will know our capabilities to get humanitarian aid to places that are cut off due to flooding or downed bridges,” said Estes.
“We can respond with aviation assets and alternative routes to get aid to people who are affected," he said.
Estes said the training will assist them in preparing for other scenarios Arizona might encounter such as wildfires.
“The way the National Guard would mobilize for a flood is the same way we would mobilize to deal with any other natural disasters,” said Estes.
The exercise took a year and a half to plan which included multiple small training events leading up to the main event.
“We are going to get a lot of experience out of this event,” Beasley said. “I know I have learned a lot out of this exercise and it hasn’t even officially started.”