JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON –
Soldiers from the Michigan and Indiana National Guard began their domestic response training Saturday during the Vibrant Response 13-2 exercise at the Muscatatuck Urban Training Center, Ind.
The 51st Civil Support Team from Battle Creek, Mich., the 53rd CST and the 1st Infantry Battalion, 151st Infantry Regiment, both from Stout Field, Ind., traveled to the MUTC to take part in Vibrant Response 13-2. The units reacted to a scenario where a nuclear device detonated in an American city.
VR 13-2 is a major field training exercise conducted by U.S. Northern Command and led by U.S. Army North (Fifth Army).
The mission of Army North is to coordinate timely federal military response to disasters in the homeland to help the American people in time of need.
"They are what we would call second responders," said Jay Norris, an observer controller/trainer division chief with Army North. "They arrive right behind the firemen and the police.
"They've been asked to survey the area for hazardous materials or, in this case, radiation. They are trying to determine for the first responders if it's clear and clean so they can move in and assist the local population."
In order to "train as we fight," the training site has to simulate real-life conditions as much as possible.
"The environment here replicates an actual American town," Norris said. "It has all the facilities of a typical small town, which is the type of environment they will be operating in. This mission is not like the typical mission in Afghanistan. This is urban ... this is American ground."
About 5,700 service members and civilians from the military and other local, state and federal agencies are training to respond to a catastrophic domestic incident. "The environment is very real world," said 1st Lt. Zachary Martinez, a platoon leader with Company C, 1st Inf. Bn., 151st Infantry Regiment. "They have everything from train stations to subways, buildings and broken-down cars. It's a pretty good reenactment of a real situation."
Martinez said he realizes the importance of his unit's training and has high hopes that the realism of the scenario will allow him and his platoon to more efficiently respond to any kind of domestic incident, should the need arise.