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449th Aviation Group

In July 2000 nearly 375 Army National Guard aviation soldiers participated in a rotation at the National Training Center. The citizen-soldiers in the 449th Aviation Task Force from North and South Carolina, from Alabama, Idaho and three other states carried on as best they could in hooded gas masks and heavy protective suits following an early-morning simulated chemical attack when clouds of smoke engulfed their Mojave Desert encampment.

Over 8,000 soldiers from the Army National Guard remember July 2000 at Fort Irwin, California as a significant and challenging experience. With temperatures routinely soaring above 100 degrees in the desert training area, the units that attended the simulated land warfare were battling both the enemy and the environment, simultaneously. The ten day scenario pushed all participants to their limits and beyond. The key objective was an opportunity to learn what might be expected in the future if Guard members are actually called into action for a real war. When the National Guard Bureau funded the units to participate for the NTC rotation 00-09, the intent was to provide realistic training at the highest level. Although the history at NTC has seen many victories for the Opposing Forces (Opfor), the one method to ensure success was to send units to participate on both sides, Blue Forces (Blufor) and Opfor. The primary organization to assume the Blufor role was the Palmetto State Task Force from South Carolina. Their call sign for the operation was Dragonslayer.

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