News: Indiana Guardsmen evacuate buildings during Vibrant Response 13
By Staff Sgt. Corey Baltos
Army North PAO
MUSCATATUCK URBAN TRAINING CENTER, Ind. – In the aftermath of a simulated nuclear attack on a major Midwestern city, “survivors” took up residence in abandoned buildings and started to rebuild their shattered lives.
The buildings, however, were deemed unsafe and needed to be vacated. Thus the “governor” called upon the soldiers of Companies A and B, 2nd Battalion, 151st Infantry Regiment, 38th Infantry Division, Indiana National Guard, to try to persuade their fellow citizens of the need to leave contaminated or structurally unsound buildings and move to a safer location.
The Guardsmen conducted a mandatory evacuation training mission on Aug. 7 at MUTC as part of their annual training requirements during Vibrant Response 13, a major incident exercise conducted by U.S. Northern Command and led by U.S. Army North. Army North observer controllers and civilian role players assisted the infantry soldiers with their training to make it more realistic.
It is unique missions such as this one that the Guardsmen must be ready to perform if called upon by their states.
The 2nd Bn., 151st Inf. Regt., 38th Inf. Div., located in South Bend, Ind., responds to emergency situations within Indiana and the continental United States.
“The important thing is to be compassionate,” said Sgt. William Watson, Company B. “These are Americans; we cannot force them to leave. This could be your grandma; we are not at war with them – we want to help them.”
The unit can quickly get to areas in need, said Spc. Thomas Snowden, Company B.
“Our unit is designed as a National Guard reaction force,” said Snowden. “We respond to disasters within the United States.”
Snowden’s first sergeant agreed with his assessment.
“As National Guard soldiers, our primary mission is to help the American people,” said 1st Sgt. Robert Darringer, senior enlisted leader, Company B. “These people need our help; they have gone through hell; they are hurt, scared and angry,” he said referencing the “displaced citizens.”
While the 151st is not officially part of Vibrant Response 13, the soldiers were able to take advantage of the availability of the role players and U.S. Army North observer controllers to make their training more authentic.
“When we arrived here for our training, we talked to the folks at Army North and told them our training requirements,” said Darringer. “Due to a lull in their training, they were able to help us make our training more realistic so it benefited everyone.”
The exercise role players were glad to add to the realism of the scenario.
“This training helps the soldiers get ready for a real-world situation,” said Ryan Hankins, a role player from North Vernon, Ind. “The more realistic we, as role players, can make it, the better prepared they will be if they have to do it in real life.”
The unit is fortunate to be able to “fall in” on the tremendous training resources available at Vibrant Response 13, said Staff Sgt. William Velez, an Army North displaced citizen controller.
“The 151st’s training requirements fit in with what we are doing at Vibrant Response 13,” said Velez. “We are training to help civilians in times of crisis, so it was beneficial to all to help the National Guard with their training.”
More than 9,000 service members and civilians are taking part in Vibrant Response 13 from July 25-Aug. 13 at the unique disaster training area at the Muscatatuck Urban Training Center and the various training areas and airfields in southern Indiana and northern Kentucky.