N.D. National Guard Builds Relationships for Disaster Operations

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by Sgt. Michaela Granger, 116th Public Affairs Detachment

N.D. National Guard (NDNG) Soldiers and Airmen worked with emergency services agencies to execute Vigilant Guard August 4-6, 2020. Vigilant Guard is a multi-agency exercise that took place across the state to refine each organizations understanding of operating procedures, evaluate their response capabilities, and improve inter-organization communication. This reflects the state’s response to real world events.

Vigilant Guard is an overarching exercise where multiple civil service agencies work together under a dual status command. A Dual Status Commander may command military members from multiple military branches and components. The exercise helps prepares local agencies for emergency responses that go beyond local capabilities, such as the 2011 Minot flood. In these events, the Governor may order the N.D. National Guard to assist.

North Dakota National Guard members from left to right Sgt. Travis Johnson, Master Sgt. Dennis Olsen, Sgt. Brent LaFontaine and Master Sgt. Craig Akerstrom, use hazardous material detection equipment during exercise Vigilant Guard at the N.D. Air National Guard Base, Fargo, N.D., Aug. 4, 2020. 119th Wing Emergency Management personnel teamed up with members of the North Dakota National Guard 81st Civil Support Team for a hazardous material detection exercise as part of exercise Vigilant Guard at the North Dakota Air National Guard regional training site. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Chief Master Sgt. David H. Lipp)
North Dakota National Guard members from left to right Sgt. Travis Johnson, Master Sgt. Dennis Olsen, Sgt. Brent LaFontaine and Master Sgt. Craig Akerstrom, use hazardous material detection equipment during exercise Vigilant Guard at the N.D. Air National Guard Base, Fargo, N.D., Aug. 4, 2020. 119th Wing Emergency Management personnel teamed up with members of the North Dakota National Guard 81st Civil Support Team for a hazardous material detection exercise as part of exercise Vigilant Guard at the North Dakota Air National Guard regional training site. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Chief Master Sgt. David H. Lipp)

More than 110 Soldiers and Airmen from the NDNG participated in Vigilant Guard, working alongside local emergency service agencies as a single team. The exercises, ranging from cyber security to rescue operations, allowed soldiers to build and maintain relationships with public entities. “The Guard says ‘live here, serve here,’ and we want to build those partnerships before an event like this happens,” Capt. Justin Johnson, 957 Multi Roll Bridge Company said.

Pvt. Seth Horn, of the 188th Engineer Company, uses a chainsaw to remove branch limbs that are blocking rescue access to a simulated victim during Exercise Vigilant Guard at Golden Lake, N.D., Aug. 5, 2020. (Air National Guard photo by Chief Master Sgt. David H. Lipp)
Pvt. Seth Horn, of the 188th Engineer Company, uses a chainsaw to remove branch limbs that are blocking rescue access to a simulated victim during Exercise Vigilant Guard at Golden Lake, N.D., Aug. 5, 2020. (Air National Guard photo by Chief Master Sgt. David H. Lipp)

“Through these exercises, they now know our capabilities,” said Johnson. “It really reinforces what the guard can bring to an emergency situation.” Exercises like Vigilant Guard, allow civil service agencies to go through the process of identifying when they should request assistance, how to request assistance and how long it takes for the National Guard to arrive for duty.

From top left: 1st. Lt. Scott Leier; Network Systems Platoon Leader, 426th Signal Company, responds to a simulated cyber incident during Vigilant Guard 2020. Top right: Soldiers of the 957th Engineer Company retrieve a casualty mannequin from Crown Butte Dam during search and rescue exercise with the Morton County Sheriff's Department on Aug. 5, 2020. (Army National Guard photos by Staff Sgt. Ashley Johlfs, 116th Public Affairs Detachment). Bottom: Sgt. 1st Class John Noyes, a medical technician with the 81st Civil Support Team, treats simulated exercise victim Sgt. Travis Johnson, also of the 81st Civil Support Team, for injuries during exercise Vigilant Guard at the N.D. Air National Guard Base, Fargo, N.D., Aug. 4, 2020. (Air National Guard photo by Chief Master Sgt. David H Lipp)
From top left: 1st. Lt. Scott Leier; Network Systems Platoon Leader, 426th Signal Company, responds to a simulated cyber incident during Vigilant Guard 2020. Top right: Soldiers of the 957th Engineer Company retrieve a casualty mannequin from Crown Butte Dam during search and rescue exercise with the Morton County Sheriff's Department on Aug. 5, 2020. (Army National Guard photos by Staff Sgt. Ashley Johlfs, 116th Public Affairs Detachment). Bottom: Sgt. 1st Class John Noyes, a medical technician with the 81st Civil Support Team, treats simulated exercise victim Sgt. Travis Johnson, also of the 81st Civil Support Team, for injuries during exercise Vigilant Guard at the N.D. Air National Guard Base, Fargo, N.D., Aug. 4, 2020. (Air National Guard photo by Chief Master Sgt. David H Lipp)
 

Doing partner exercises builds a foundation for trust and communication between agencies, showcasing the skills of everyone involved in order to have a full scope of resources available to the state of North Dakota. Vigilant Guard allows organizations like the NDNG to hone their skills and show their commitment to the communities of North Dakota. “The Guard is always ready, always there,” Johnson said. “That’s not just a saying to us; our Soldiers take to heart that they serve their community.” 

 

Sgt. 1st Class Benji Boll of the 188th Engineer Company, discusses search and rescue plans with Jason Sletten, the Hatton, N.D. assistant fire chief, during Exercise Vigilant Guard at Golden Lake, N.D., Aug. 5, 2020. (Air National Guard photo by Chief Master Sgt. David H. Lipp)
Sgt. 1st Class Benji Boll of the 188th Engineer Company, discusses search and rescue plans with Jason Sletten, the Hatton, N.D. assistant fire chief, during Exercise Vigilant Guard at Golden Lake, N.D., Aug. 5, 2020. (Air National Guard photo by Chief Master Sgt. David H. Lipp)

 

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