3, 2003, 21:53 EST
test incident response plan
By Lt. Col. Chester Carter, III
Public Affairs Officer
The Virginia National Guard units assigned the mission to perform as
an Incident Response Force (IRF) put their plan to the test this weekend
with exercises at Fort A. P. Hill and the State Military Reservation.
squad leader gives instructions to members of his squad as they
secure their objective at Fort A. P. Hill during the IRF exercise.
(Photo by Maj. Cotton Puryear, Virginia National Guard Public
Affairs Office) Click HERE
to see more photos from the exercise.
The Virginia Guard has a long history of supporting civil authorities
and law enforcement agencies. But it was clear to Maj. Gen. Claude Williams,
the Adjutant General of Virginia, that to be relevant to the needs of
civil authorities and law enforcement the Virginia National Guard must
be more responsive than ever before. So he “raised the bar”
for unit performance.
He identified two units that, in addition to their other missions, would
concentrate their effort on being able to rapidly support and augment
law enforcement activities. While other Virginia Guard units will continue
to train for and be prepared to support law enforcement activities,
the IRF would receive additional training and preparation to respond
on very short notice.
The soldiers of 2nd Battalion, 111th Field Artillery and 3rd Battalion,
116th Infantry received training earlier this year to prepare them for
their new mission. But the plan to implement this mission had not been
tested. That changed on the first weekend in August. The telephonic
alert went out from the Emergency Operations Center of the Virginia
State Area Command to the soldiers of the 2nd Battalion, 111th Field
Artillery and 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry at 2 o’clock in the
morning on August 2.
Soldiers of the 116th Infantry received a mission to secure a location
at Ft. A. P. Hill, Va. Soldiers of the 111th Field Artillery received
a similar mission and traveled from their home stations to State Military
Reservation outside of Virginia Beach. The soldiers learned not only
how to secure a site in support of law enforcement agencies also about
the communications, logistical, and operational activities necessary
to conduct the mission in this very unique environment.
Command Sgt. Maj. Anthony Price, who helped with the development of
the exercise, said that its purpose was to validate the Incident Response
Force plan. He was observing the exercise at Ft. A. P. Hill as events
unfolded throughout the morning. He said that even early on the exercise
had identified parts of the plan that would need to be modified to better
support the mission.
As soldiers from the 116th Infantry conducted refresher training and
prepared to leave the assembly area out side of the Ft. A. P. Hill armory
and move to the incident site, Col. Mike Harris and his staff worked
to put the finishing touches on the plan the soldiers would carry out.
All the while similar activity was taking place at State Military Reservation.
Col. James Ainslie directed the efforts of the 111th Field Artillery
soldiers. Maj. Charles Chappell was assisting with the evaluation of
the operations plan at State Military Reservation. His comments and
thoughts echoed those of Sgt. Maj. Price. Maj. Chappell said the plan
certainly had areas that could be improved upon, but notwithstanding
that it was very good as it was.
In addition to exercising command and control, communications, logistics
and operations at the senior level, the exercise also provided the opportunity
for training at the unit level as well. Capt. Walter Patrick, commander
of B Battery, 2nd Battalion, 111th Field Artillery said this training
provided him with the opportunity to review vehicle load plans and force
protection issues. He said his soldiers may rather be shooting artillery
rounds but “this is the mission we have been given” and
they would do it in a professional manner.
There seemed to be a consensus: The hard work and effort that has gone
into the plan to stand up a responsive, relevant Incident Response Force
has yielded an exceptional product. The soldiers of the 2nd Battalion,
111th Field Artillery and 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry demonstrated
the skill sets necessary to deploy on short notice in support of a law
enforcement agency. The plan necessary to support this mission, while
needing some adjustment, is in place and has been demonstrated to be
effective. As the After Action Review of the exercises continues and
the lessons learned are incorporated at all levels of the organization,
the Virginia National Guard continues to improve on its preparedness
to meet whatever contingency may come its way.
The Army and Air National Guard are unique among the components of the
United States military in that these organizations have both a state
and a federal mission. The Virginia Army and Air National Guard are
constantly preparing for these missions in order to be prepared to respond
to contingencies that may be presented by either the Governor of the
Commonwealth or the National Command Authority. The events of September
11, 2001 taught us to be prepared to respond to any number of potential
threats, both overseas and at home.
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