There’s been a lot of chatter lately over the increasing presence of the military in civilian circles by way of the Northcom military command and their participation with local law enforcement agencies. Recently, a major disaster training event was held, Vibrant Response, and I am betting that at least some of the jump the gun survivalists are fearing that this exercise is a stepping stone to suspension of our constitution. I won’t disagree that the potential for abuse exists with this command, but I’m also betting that when it gets down to the wire, the majority of these soldiers care more about the constitution than they do getting reamed by their commanding officers.

There is of lot of distrust and resentment against the feds in the world of the anti new world order, small gov. crowd, and there is reason to be suspicious, but come on folks, these things need to take place if training is to be effective. After all, you can read a dozen textbooks on how to repair the brakes on your car, but until you get the toolbox out and actually change those brakes, you’ve never changed them. Consequently, you have no real experience with that exercise, and when you are down and out, and your brakes need repairing, what are you going to do? Stumble through the job and make mistakes when you can least afford to?

That analogy goes for disaster preparedness as well. The military is best suited to respond to a major catastrophe as they have the logistics, supplies and equipment in place and ready to go. These exercises train these men in what and how to do the things they need to do to be effective and minimize loss. We’ve always used the military by way of the National Guard etc. to help out in emergencies, so don’t second guess and come to rash conclusions when these types of events occur. The military voluntarily, for the most part, places their lives on the line in order to protect us and keep our borders secure. The dipsticks in Washington are another problem altogether, and there is no escape from that quarter, and that is where our distrust and complaints should be directed. Soldiers are soldiers and not politicians, and that’s the way it should be.

From some of the commentary I have read over this training exercise I gather there are many in the far right community that would rather rake in the mud than play in the grass and that’s too bad. I believe we would be much better off if we were to start to put some of the extremism to the side and start working together to bring true conservatism back to this nation. Socialism has been 100 years coming to this nation, let’s hope it doesn’t take 100 years to get rid of it.

I have included here a couple of press releases from Northcom regarding the Vibrant Response exercise, which was to be a practice for a nuclear strike on a local level.

Inter-agency exercise prepares all for national emergency

Nov. 11, 2009
By T. D. Jackson, Camp Atterbury Public Affairs

BUTLERVILLE, Ind. – With an exercise the magnitude of Vibrant Response comes the need for inter-agency communication, team/unit cohesion and quick reaction time.  Vibrant Response, an exercise that simulates a terrorist nuclear attack in the United States, implements those three tenets in order to accomplish the mission at hand – working together to help save lives. 

More than 4,000 military and civilian participants converged on Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center, Muscatatuck Urban Training Center and its surrounding communities Nov. 5 – 12 to participate in a training exercise that would put their capabilities to the test. 

Air Force Gen. Victor E. “Gene” Renuart Jr., the commander of North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command, explained how when attacks of this nature surpass the capability of first responders, there are people in place who are trained specifically for such an occasion.   

“When an event like this occurs,” he said, “absolutely the first people on the scene are going to be the local first responders…”   

“But as you could imagine, an event like a nuclear detonation will rapidly grow beyond the capacity of certainly the local first responders and maybe state and potentially national responders,” he said.  “And so what we’ve tried to approximate in this scenario is that those first responders have arrived, they have conducted those initial searches, and we’ve asked for the civil support teams from within the state to come and assess for chemical, biological and nuclear conditions and help us understand what would be required to respond to this.” 

On Friday and Saturday that assessment team was the Ohio Chemical Enhanced Force Protection Package, or Ohio CERFP, chemical and engineering Soldiers and Air Force medics pulled together from the Ohio Army and Air National Guard.   

Army Maj. David Mason, Ohio CERFP commander, said the benefit of having the team is that it is set up to be on stand-by alert. 

“When looking at a major incident, your initial first responders can only do so much in a certain time frame,” he said.  “When the FEMA assistance comes in [there can be] a lapse in that response.  We’re here to fill in the gap.  We have the ability to arrive on site within 12 hours of call up.” 

The team got their trial-by-fire Saturday during the second simulated nuclear attack on a city.  The once peaceful neighborhood soon erupted like a volcano: smoke spewed from building windows, fire engulfed wrecked cars and trucks and dazed citizens – bloodied and battered – poured into the streets shouting for medical attention.  Some could not be consoled. 

“Where is my daughter?” a woman cried.  “I’m not leaving without my daughter!” 

Bloodcurdling screams and thunderous pounding erupted from the city jail as “prisoners” were determined to not be left behind.  Feeling angry and forgotten, they rattled and shook their jail cell bars yelling for someone to help them. 

 “Why isn’t anyone coming?” they cried to one another. 

But someone was coming.  Outside, the Ohio CERFP members were performing land surveys to identify the damage, erecting triage centers and setting up decontamination sites.  The “decon team” then moved out to rescue the people in need.

 Army Cpl. Jaime Ramirez, a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear explosives specialist with the 379th Chemical Company headquartered in Chicago said the scenario was as real as it gets.

 “It was exciting the second we got in the gate,” he said.  “The simulated town and wreckage everywhere, role players with simulated injuries… It seems really well thought out.”

 In fact, every burning car, every trash heap and rubble pile was put in place so people who come to train at Muscatatuck are immersed in the most realistic scenario possible.

Lt. Gen. Tom Turner, commander of U.S. Army North and the Vibrant Response director, describes Camp Atterbury and Muscatatuck as second to none.

 “This should be a national treasure,” Turner said.  “I really think it is a perfect place to do the integration of inter-agency training.  It is an incredible piece of terrain,” he said, adding that Muscatatuck provides “great opportunities and great realism.”

 “You can see over the next few days this is going to be a very realistic battlefield and [the Indiana National Guard] has really done a heck of a lot to facilitate it so I can’t thank them enough,” he said.

 Turner said training in an exercise such as Vibrant Response helps the participants work through any kinks that would otherwise manifest at an inopportune time.

 “When you show up at an incident of this magnitude, that is not the time to start meeting the players that are going to be involved in this kind of effort,” Turner said.

 “Everyone will get training in their own task that they perform but they’ll also go away with a much better understanding of how the pieces fit together, how federal, local and state folks get integrated to conduct this mission,” he said.

 The same nuclear attack was carried out on Monday, this time with Marine Corps responders from the Chemical-Biological Incident Response Force, or CBIRF, out of Indian Head, Md.

 Brig. Gen. Clif Tooley, commander of the Camp Atterbury-Muscatatuck Center for Complex Operations, said that he was honored to support U.S. Northern Command and U.S. Army North in their execution of this year’s exercise, Vibrant Response.

 “The size and scope of this event will showcase our unique capability to support large-scale live training of Department of Defense forces missioned to provide support to civil authorities in consequence management,” Tooley said.  “The Joint-Interagency-intergovernmental team participating in this experience will undoubtedly leave better prepared to perform their mission should they be called upon to do so.”

Vibrant Response brings realistic disaster training close to home

Nov. 11, 2009
By Spc. John Crosby, Camp Atterbury Public Affairs

EDINBURGH, Ind. – Smoke billowing from buildings, the beating of helicopter blades and constant radio chatter echo over ground zero; the Muscatatuck Urban Training Center in Butlerville, Ind., on November 9.

The scenario is unimaginable to many; a nuclear weapon detonates over a large U.S. city. The catastrophe calls on our nation’s military and first responders. The Army and Air National Guard answer the call. The training event is dubbed Vibrant Response.

Over the years, the tragedies of the tsunami in Indonesia, Hurricane Katrina and the attacks on September 11, make training for an event of this magnitude seem necessary.

“Some would say it’s not a question of if but when there’s going to be another large scale catastrophic attack on our nation,” said Lt. Gen. Tom Turner, U.S. Army North commander.

Training for such a catastrophe has been deemed mandatory by U.S. military officials.

“It is an extraordinary training opportunity for a nation’s capability,” said Gen. Victor E. “Gene” Renuart Jr., commander of North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command. “The kinds of scenarios that you see throughout this training venue allow us to practice not only the individual skills but the organizational skills necessary to respond to this type of an event.”

The training event, commanded by Army North, involved more than 4,000 people. Muscatatuck’s layout of 120-plus buildings, nine miles of roads and underground tunnel systems proved an excellent venue to create such a scenario.

“It hits all of the major training venues that you would find in an urban area,” said Lt. Col. Chris Kelsey, Muscatatuck commander. “It should really task all of these units to really use their full spectrum of tools to get the job done.”

Casualties, rubble piles and emergency sirens added to the event’s realism.

“It was exciting the second we got in the gate,” said Army Sgt. Mathew Morgan, 379th Chemical Company headquartered in Chicago. “The simulated town and wreckage everywhere, role players with simulated injuries… It seems really well thought out.”

The Army and Air Guard units operated with a full spectrum of components necessary to respond to the mock nuclear attack. First, identifier teams roved the wreckage taking radiation tests ensuring the levels were safe enough for servicemembers to begin work.

Next, search and rescue teams extracted civilians and casualties from the affected areas. The affected people were decontaminated and then triaged and given medical care according to priority of injuries. Several echelons of care operated by several units of different military branches all operated as one.

“It gives them an assessment of their capability, gives them an assessment of their level of physical fitness and their endurance,” said Jeff Taylor, operations and medical and analytical evaluator. “It helps you to understand just how much you actually can do and how hard you can push yourself.”

Valuable lessons are learned each day during Vibrant Response including communication, logistical and coordination issues.

 “I’d like to see them gain confidence in their equipment, confidence in their team and confidence to do the job they need to do anywhere in the United States or anywhere else in the world if they were called,” said Kelsey.

Beyond the challenges of working in the mass-casualty situation and the chaos of the aftermath of the mock nuclear blast, the Guard units faced the challenges of working with other units, other branches of the military and civilian authorities.

“That’s what we’re focusing on today is the evacuation piece and the integration of units that don’t normally work together,” said Taylor. “I think they learned a great deal.”

As Vibrant Response draws to a close, plans for future events such as this are discussed, possibly a smaller quarterly event in conjunction with a yearly training scenario according to Kelsey.

“I would say without a doubt that the quality of this force that we have is as good as anywhere in the world,” said Turner. “I think that we as a nation have come to realize that the threat is real and we have to be prepared for that. Is the nation prepared to respond? Yes. Do we need to grow that capability further? Yes. That’s what these exercises are designed to do.”


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