News: Tennessee Air National Guard participates in national emergency exercise
Story by Niki Gentry
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee Air National Guard personnel and equipment from Memphis to Knoxville participated in Patriot 14, a disaster relief training exercise at Volk Field Combat Readiness Training Center, Wis., during 22-24 July. Members of the 134th Air Refueling Wing and 119th Command and Control Squadron in Knoxville, the 118th Wing in Nashville, and the 164th Airlift Wing in Memphis, traveled to Volk Field to provide critical military assets to support civil authorities in numerous simulated disaster scenarios.
The Patriot Program was developed by National Guard Bureau to create a joint training and exercise environment that allows Soldiers and Airmen from the National Guard with an ability to assess their military, and special life-saving capabilities to respond to a domestic disaster, either natural or manmade. The program’s three goals are to provide realistic training for both civilian and military organizations, assist in improving coordination between civil-military entities and ensure vital tasks are met through a system of self assessments. Forty-nine Air National Guard units from across the nation supported the exercise with four Army Guard support elements and numerous other government / civilian organizations.
Providing support during times of emergency to federal, state or local agencies is a primary task of the National Guard in the United States and globally. Using equipment to restore power, provide water, evacuate casualties, re-supply impacted regions and overall to support civil emergency responders are just a few examples of the tasks required.
A total of 62 organizations participated in Patriot 14, from military units to agencies such as the Red Cross and Salvation Army. Tennessee Air Guard units had specific responsibilities that were evaluated to determine their effectiveness in mitigating issues resulting from disaster scenarios. The 134th Air Refueling Wing provided two Airmen to work in an emergency operations center to assist other Air units in planning for aircraft requirements to ensure they fulfilled vital transportation missions.
The 119th Command and Control Squadron provided ten Airmen and constructed two Joint Incident Site Communication Capability Systems, or JISCCS, that allow mobile communications capability to be placed in disaster areas so responders and emergency managers have a means of talking to each other when established lines of communication are disrupted.
The 118th Wing’s Civil Engineering Squadron provided six Airmen to support Power Pro Generators that have the ability to function for numerous days and provide substantial electrical power to remote base facilities or sites where emergency power is in dire need such as hospitals or shelter areas.
The 164th Airlift Wing deployed a chaplain to provide morale and religious counseling to effected individuals in the simulated disaster zone.
Due to the substantial size and scope of the mission several key leaders were on hand to observe and review the operations first hand. The Tennessee contingent was visited by Brig. Gen. Don Johnson, Tennessee’s Assistant Adjutant General, Air and Chief Master Sgt. Wade Hudson, Command Chief, Tennessee Air National Guard.
“Global Patriot was an outstanding exercise that provided the Tennessee Air National Guard an opportunity to showcase its ability to respond to a natural disaster. Our mobile satellite communication support to military and civilian authorities is paramount to saving lives in this scenario. Additionally, our Airman tend to get lost in the big scheme of things with our support functions. Medical, spiritual, power generation and logistics are a few critical capabilities that the Air National Guard brings to the fight in our domestic response for the Adjutant General and Governor,” said Johnson.
The Patriot exercise was very successful and illustrated the ability of multiple military and civil entities to train and interact in a scenario driven environment to adequately prepare for future real world emergencies.