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    TOPOFF 4: Oregon Airmen, Soldiers step up to support disaster exercise in Portland

    TOPOFF 4: Oregon Airmen, Soldiers step up to support disaster exercise in Portland

    Photo By John Hughel | A Portland Police officer prepares to be one of the first responders after a dirty...... read more read more



    Story by Senior Airman John Hughel 

    Oregon National Guard Public Affairs Office

    PORTLAND, Ore. - With one well timed explosion at the heart of the Steel Bridge as a MAX train made its way to downtown Portland, Oregon on October 16, 2007, TOPOFF 4 officially began to play out in exercise form. The simulated dirty bomb attack actually took place at Portland International Raceway where a well constructed “set” of what would have taken place in an actual assault was well mapped out.

    The exercise began to unfold quickly and the 142nd Fighter Wing responded by swiftly launching aircraft to fly air cover over the skies of the Pacific Northwest. Other first responders from local police and fire departments, FBI, Red Cross and members of the National Guard began to converge on the situation in assessing how all these agencies would work together.

    The 304th Air Force Reserve Squadron, assigned at the Portland Air National Guard Base, also responded to the exercise site to begin moving injured survivors. The 142nd also played host to the operations center for the Joint Task Force during the exercise here at the Portland Air National Guard Base.

    The Joint Task Force Operations was a hub of activity as information and updates from the Virtual News Network, Federal and State agencies were collected and processed in real time.

    As the exercise began to grow so did the response from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Later in the day the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Michael Paulson as well as Oregon Governor Ted Kulongski, Portland Mayor Tom Potter, and Maj. Gen. Raymond Rees, Adjutant General of the Oregon National Guard toured the main exercise site for a late day press conference.

    Going into the second and third day of training, again the Joint Task Force and other key parts of the 142nd played a large part in the exercise. Gen. Victor Renuart, Jr., The North American Aerospace Defense (NORAD) Commander and Secretary Chertoff arrived in Portland on October 18, with the exercise area was taking place at David Douglas High School in Southeast Portland.

    Secretary Chertoff found the response from the Portland region to be “meeting if not exceeding all of the pre-conditions," based on other TOPOFF exercises.

    “TOPOFF 4 is the largest exercise of its time to date and Portland is the biggest player in TOPOFF 4”, said Chertoff.

    As the group left David Douglas High School, General Victor Renuart returned back to Portland Air Base for a luncheon at the Columbia Point Club as well as a tour of the alert aircraft facilities.

    142nd Wing Commander Col. Steven Gregg gave a presentation of the unit’s mission and readiness to General Renuart, Gov. Kulongski, Major General Rees and other TOPOFF Commanders.

    “We stand ready at all times to respond to our dual missions”, Gregg said as six well timed F-15’s taxied past the group’s window for takeoff during Col. Gregg’s briefing.

    With TOPOFF 4 receiving so much national and international attention, many other aspects of the 142nd assets were put to the test. Communications, Civil Engineers, Security and many other Squadrons stood up quickly and effectively to the ever changing situations involved in such a large training task. The reality of such an exercise took many of the key players to places all over the city in the week long event.

    Mayor Potter called the first two hours of TOPOFF, “One of the most intense situations,” since he has been Portland’s top official. “In the early hours of this exercise it was really hard for me to tell if this was real or not as we were inundated with situation after situation moving in front of us”, said Potter.

    Governor Kulongski asked General Renuart and General Rees which branch of service is capable of responding with their key people first in situations like this. Before Renuart could answer, General Rees quickly told the Governor that the way the Air Guard trains – it’s the Air Force that meets many of those key needs. “I am not saying that because we're here at (PANG) today. “It has a great deal to do with how Airmen go about their daily training,” said Rees.

    As the first day of TOPOFF 4 ended, Gov. Kulongski shared a few minutes of time with Public Affairs members from the Oregon National Guard. He had just finished giving a televised response for the Virtual News Network (VVN) that sounded as convincing as any speech he has given in his tenure as the Commander and Chief of the Oregon Guard.

    When asked in a lighter moment when he was responding to questions, he was asked if working with the military members “...if he wanted to re-up with the Oregon National Guard,” after he leaves office..." Kulongski said that, “One of the best parts of my job as the Governor has been my association with the men and women who wear the uniform for our Country and State.”

    With that the Governor was whisked away and onto another part of TOPOFF 4 as the exercise kept evolving throughout the week around Portland.



    Date Taken: 10.19.2007
    Date Posted: 08.05.2022 15:40
    Story ID: 426660
    Location: PORTLAND, OR, US 

    Web Views: 18
    Downloads: 0