29th ID Soldiers support domestic response exercise in Maine

29DART

Lt. Col. Buddy Moore and Master Sgt. Joel Fix of the 29th Infantry Division discuss information flow during a natural disaster at Vigilant Guard 14-1 Nov. 1-8, 2013, in Bangor, Maine. Vigilant Guard validated the planning and augmentation capability of the 29th ID’s Domestic All-Hazards Response Team. The National Guard Bureau tasked the 29th ID to serve as the Division All Hazard Response Team for 2013 and 2014. (Photo by Lt. Col. Tim Donnellan, 29th Infantry Division Public Affairs)

BANGOR, Maine — Soldiers from the Fort Belvoir-based 29th Infantry Division participated in Vigilant Guard 14-1 from Nov. 1-8, 2013, the largest single emergency response exercise the National Guard has ever organized, with more than 3,000 participants from multiple states and agencies.

The Vigilant Guard exercise program is sponsored by the U.S. Northern Command in conjunction with the National Guard Bureau. The program provides state National Guard headquarters and supporting units with an opportunity to improve cooperation and operational relationships with their civilian, federal and military partners in preparation for domestic emergencies and catastrophic events.

This exercise validated the planning and augmentation capability of the 29th ID’s Domestic All-Hazards Response Team or DART. The 29th ID coordinated closely with the Maine National Guard throughout the exercise planning, and deployed approximately 30 personnel for an augmentation cell to integrate within their Joint Task Force – Maine Dual Status Command headquarters to conduct command post operations, civil support planning, and communications support.

Soldiers from the 29th Infantry Division conduct a course of action analysis during their support to Vigilant Guard 14-1 in Bangor, Maine. (Photo by Lt. Col. Tim Donnellan, 29th Infantry Division Public Affairs)

Soldiers from the 29th Infantry Division conduct a course of action analysis during their support to Vigilant Guard 14-1 in Bangor, Maine. (Photo by Lt. Col. Tim Donnellan, 29th Infantry Division Public Affairs)

The 29th ID continues to improve its capacity and capability in order to meet DART mission intent. The National Guard Bureau developed the DART to provide Joint Army and Air National Guard support for significant all-hazards events in order to provide the Adjutant Genera with operational flexibility for augmenting their existing forces with modular and scalable military force packages.

“This is a great opportunity for the 29th Infantry Division to put our training over the last year to the test,” said Maj. Jonathan Toland, operations and plans officer for the 29th ID.

This exercise took place during a simulated major winter ice storm and focused on interagency coordination. Training scenarios included simulated bus accidents, potential intruders, bomb threats and other possible terrorist threats, mass causalities, hazardous materials incidents, collapsed structures and cyber security breaches.

The 29th Infantry Division is uniquely suited for these missions as a majority of 29th ID Soldiers have recently returned from federal deployments overseas and have honed the skill sets necessary for crisis management supporting civilian authorities, Toland explained. Many Soldiers are employed by federal and state emergency agencies, law enforcement, and the judicial systems and are able to put their civilian experience to work in military operations.

These distinct experiences are a tremendous asset to the unit, and they truly represent the Citizen-Soldier concept.

 

Vigilant Guard is the largest single emergency response exercise the National Guard has ever organized, with more than 3,000 participants from multiple states and agencies. National Guard and reserve units from Virginia, Maryland, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Virginia, Indiana, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont provided support for this year’s Vigilant Guard exercise in Maine. (Photo by Lt. Col. Tim Donnellan, 29th Infantry Division Public Affairs)

Vigilant Guard is the largest single emergency response exercise the National Guard has ever organized, with more than 3,000 participants from multiple states and agencies. National Guard and reserve units from Virginia, Maryland, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Virginia, Indiana, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont provided support for this year’s Vigilant Guard exercise in Maine. (Photo by Lt. Col. Tim Donnellan, 29th Infantry Division Public Affairs)

“We can take our experiences from the exercise to increase the sustainment of the Commonwealth of Virginia during an actual natural or man-made disaster,” said Master Sgt. Gerald Johnson, operations NCO for the 29th ID

National Guard and reserve units from Virginia, Maryland, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Virginia, Indiana, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont provided support for this year’s Vigilant Guard exercise in Maine.

“We welcome any opportunity to contribute some of our expertise to other National Guard units. I am extremely impressed with the professionalism of the Maine National Guard and how well we worked together,” said Toland.

“This Vigilant Guard exercise was a great opportunity to conduct realistic training for the 29th Division’s DART mission,” said Brig. Gen. Timothy E. Gowen, Deputy Commanding General of the 29th Infantry Division. “The Vigilant Guard exercise pulls together all the key agencies of a domestic all hazard response scenario – from the local level first responders to the state level National Guard units and emergency management agencies, to the national level FEMA and NORTHCOM. During this particular exercise, we have seen confirmation that the DART mission helps to synthesize these agencies into a coherent activity aimed at managing National Guard units from many states, with a variety of capabilities into one integrated, manageable force.”

The 29th Infantry Division is comprised of Soldiers from Maryland and Virginia and on Oct. 1, 2013, was tasked by the National Guard Bureau to serve as the Division All Hazard Response Team for 2013 and 2014. The 29th ID is aligned with FEMA Regions 1 through 5 (states east of the Mississippi), to assist state National Guard in their service to governors and citizens during incident response.