Keeping Your Guard Up

Held from January 11 to 15th, Iowa recently conducted the first of 2016's Vigilant Guard exercises, an event designed to test the preparedness and responsiveness of local, state, and federal emergency management officials, sponsored by the U.S. Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) and the National Guard Bureau.

Simulating major flooding, tornadoes, power outages, and cyber attacks, Brig. Gen Roy Webb, commander of the Joint Task Force Iowa, noted that "This scenario has been designed to break us."

Focusing around the collaboration of the Iowa National Guard and state emergency management, and involving approximately 500 service members and civilian officials, the scenarios were designed to stretch the limits of the National Guard, demanding the cooperation of civilian personnel. As noted by Webb, "The Vigilant Guard scenario was designed to push our internal Joint Task Force Iowa staff to its limit, in order that we would have to augment them with Title 10 (active duty) staff members and G-staff members and 671st Troop Command staff. It was designed to push us beyond our limits so we would have to bring new members in and integrate them, so that if we had to do this in real life, we would have already done that."

Another occurrence of the Vigilant Guard exercises will follow in Vermont in July of 2016, testing emergency response and integrated activities, involving 4000 responders from municipal, state and federal agencies, the Vermont National Guard, and others. Simulations are anticipated to include, but not be limited to, Emergency Operations Centers, natural disaster response and recovery, and medical surges.