SAVANNAH, Ga. --
The Georgia Air National Guard participated in Vigilant Guard 17-2, an exercise sponsored by the U.S. Northern Command in association with the National Guard Bureau. Members from the 116th Air Control Wing, 165th Airlift Wing, the Air Dominance Center, and the State Headquarters staff contributed nearly 800 Airmen to the state-wide Defense Support to Civil Authorities exercise from March 14-31, 2017.
Vigilant Guard is designed to establish a learning environment where participants respond to major natural and manmade disasters while illustrating the relationships between federal, state, and local agencies.
The 116th Security Forces Squadron and the 165th Security Forces Squadron kicked off the exercise when they worked alongside the Macon-Bibb County Emergency Management Agency to practice crowd control techniques in Macon from March 14-15, 2017. The multiple agencies trained together in order to help integrate their techniques to ensure the safety of citizens during the hurricane scenario.
“Training together is crucial in order to validate that all the agencies tasked to respond to the event or emergency are using the same tactics, techniques, and procedures,” said Chief Master Sgt. Daniel Florin, security forces manger, 165th SFS. “This not only builds confidence, but makes for a seamless integration of forces.”
The two flying Wings continued to exercise their interoperability at the Guardian Centers located in Perry during a Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and Explosives scenario from March 27-30, 2017. The 116th Medical Group Detachment 1 and the 165th Fatality Search and Recovery Team, with members of both the 116th and 165th Force Support Squadrons, added their unique mission capabilities to Georgia’s Enhanced Response Force Package. The venue provided realistic training for the Airmen to refine their skills.
“There’s debris all around here and hazards,” said Senior Airman John Childree, a medic with the 116th MDG. “Not only physical hazards, such as the building collapsing, but you have gas, fire, and other elements that we also have to consider.”
The 283rd Combat Communication Squadron provided the communication capabilities to the more than 1,000 federal, state, and local first responders operating at the Guardian Centers with their Joint Incident Site Communications Capability trailer. The 116th Chaplain Corps deployed their Tactical Field Religious Support Kit which is a portable building that serves as an area for chaplains to attend to the spiritual needs of personnel working in a disaster area.
The Wings also had the opportunity to work together at Warner Robbins Air Force Base, during Joint Reception, Staging, Onward Movement, and Integration operations. JRSOI provides the dual status commander with the ability to accurately track all the different forces coming into the state through Emergency Management Assistance Compacts, while building administrative readiness. The units provided logistics support, communication support, and a rest area. Members of the 116th and 165th FSS as well as the 116th Logistics Readiness Squadron worked with the 78th Troop Command, Georgia Army National Guard from March 26-30, 2017.
The Savannah-Chatham County area provided another venue for the GA ANG to exercise its DSCA response. The Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport served as a forward operating base during the hurricane scenario. Members of the Air Dominance Center and 165th AW exercised their reception and integration plan and trained to rapidly respond to receiving and downloading increased airflow of cargo aircraft. The ADC also hosted the Georgia Department of Health’s mobile hospital, which highlighted the multi-agency exercise. The 165th AW Chaplain Corps also supported the DPH triage exercise.
“In public health we really cannot deal with emergencies on our own. It takes a collaboration of many partners in order to be effective in how we respond.” said Dr. Patrick O’Neal, director of health protection, Department of Health. “Bringing all these partners together in a single exercise, over many days, has been a real challenge but it has been also been a tremendous opportunity to improve our preparedness here in Georgia.”
The 165th Civil Engineering Squadron and 165th Fire Emergency Services Flight also conducted recovery and response training and route clearing at the airport during the exercise. The activities at the airport lasted from March 23-30, 2017.
The Headquarters staff provided command and control at the State’s Joint Force Headquarters’ Joint Operations Center as well as GEMA’s State Operations Center. Members from the 116th ACW, 165th AW, and 224th JCSS supported the state-wide exercise with subject matter experts in the field of ANG DSCA capabilities.
Other training scenarios across Georgia included Airmen from the 165th Air Support Operations Squadron, 224th Joint Communication Support Squadron, and 116th ACW providing liaison and air coordination support to the Chatham and GEMA Air Support Operations Center. The 202nd Engineering Installation Squadron exercised a communication restoration project at Fort Stewart and the 116th Civil Engineering Squadron participated in a route clearance exercise at Tift County Airport. The 158th Airlift Squadron and 128th Airborne Command and Control Squadron flew multiple sorties during Vigilant Guard.
"From riot control to route clearing, our own Georgia Air National Guard had their largest participation in this year's Vigilant Guard and they performed brilliantly," said
Maj. Gen. Jesse Simmons, the Assistant Adjutant General for the State of Georgia. "I could not be prouder of our Airmen."