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    NY Guard, Naval Militia combine boat drills and statewide communications exercise

    Empire Challenge Exercise

    Photo By Eric Durr | New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services personnel send...... read more read more



    Story by Eric Durr 

    New York National Guard

    OVID, N.Y. – Two New York Naval Militia patrol boats and 35 Naval Militia members joined 50 members of the New York Guard State Defense Force, the Civil Air Patrol and representatives of the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services to conduct an emergency response exercise on Seneca Lake July 15 and 16.

    The joint emergency response exercise, named “Empire Challenge,” allowed Naval Militia and New York Guard service members to work collaboratively to practice long range radio communications with sites across the state, including Camp Smith in the Hudson Valley, Buffalo and Long Island.

    The Empire Challenge exercise tested emergency response skills for the Naval Militia and New York Guard.

    The New York Naval Militia is a component of the New York Military Forces, which also includes the Army and Air National Guard and the New York Guard.

    Naval Militia members practiced their skills as boat operators and as radio operators in a command post trailer. The New York Guard set up multiple Operation Centers to provide overall command and control of the exercise and serve as radio communications test hubs. In addition, the New York State Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services tested their radio communications during the exercise.

    "Exercises like Empire Challenge provide our Naval Militia members with opportunities to practice skills that would be required in an actual emergency response," said Naval Militia Rear Admiral Larry Weill, the commander of the New York Naval Militia.

    "The training on Seneca Lake will test three new means of radio communications, which is always one of the biggest challenges in any operational environment," he said.

    The scenario on Seneca Lake also involved two Naval Militia boats working to retrieve a boat that had been blown out into the lake by a major windstorm. The Sailors and New York Guard members then trained to operate and deliver a water pump to a shoreline for removing water from a simulated flood zone.

    The two boats included PB (for patrol boat) 281, a 28-foot patrol boat based in Buffalo, and the LC (for landing craft) 350, a 35-foot landing craft based in Coxsackie on the Hudson River.

    The Naval Militia operates a fleet of 11 boats for missions in support of New York State, the Coast Guard, and other federal and local law enforcement agencies.

    Another part of the joint response involved a simulated boat fire with a man overboard.

    New York Guard personnel augmenting the crew of Naval Militia boat LC-350, extinguished the simulated boat fire with a water pump. At the same time, another Naval Militia team rehearsed the actions to rescue of a man overboard and transported him to a joint New York Naval Militia and Guard medical response team ashore.

    “One of the strongest aspects of the exercise was watching the folks that had just been trained on the water pump to execute exercise scenarios,” said New York Guard Lt. Col. Geffrey Milligan, a safety officer for the exercise.

    “It was fun training, and it was good working with other entities to let people know what our boats can do,” said Naval Militia Senior Chief Petty Officer Robert Wittenzellner during the training.

    Members of the New York Guard echoed the sentiment for the unique training for emergency response.

    “It was great having the opportunity being on a boat on beautiful Lake Seneca,” said New York Guard Pfc. Jazon Kruze. “I’m extremely glad being given the opportunity [to train on the boat].”

    As the National Guard elements trained on the water, the Civil Air Patrol (CAP), the official civilian auxiliary of the Air Force provided air support to the exercise.

    Aircraft and drones supported by the Civil Air Patrol took part in a search and rescue event, providing aerial photography and radio communications.

    Receiving updates and communications from the lake were New York Guard and Naval Militia members on Long Island and New York City, practicing communication skills with the portable Mobile Emergency Response Center. These members trained on Mobile Emergency Radio Network skills, communicating with Naval Militia and New York Guard throughout the state with reports and updates.

    In the Hudson Valley, New York Guard Staff Sgt. Stanley Cohen supervised a team of 12 members from the 56th Area Command at Camp Smith, manning an operations center and training on the Mobile Emergency Radio Network, communicating with stations at the Staten Island Armory, in Eisenhower Park in Nassau County, as well with those at Seneca Lake.

    “There’s a sense of accomplishment in successfully working with unfamiliar equipment to accomplish a mission. It is always a motivating factor and driving force of encouragement to learn more,” Cohen said.

    At the conclusion of the exercise, both Naval Militia and New York Guard leaders gained valuable feedback, including the advantages of joint training for emergency response, Weill said. This cooperation is vital in situations where communications may be compromised, and the response requires the joint skills of these New York military forces.

    By 1st LT Michael Rehbaum and 1st LT James Chin, New York Guard



    Date Taken: 07.26.2022
    Date Posted: 07.26.2022 14:10
    Story ID: 425832
    Location: OVID, NY, US

    Web Views: 693
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