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Detroit Arsenal participates in Vigilant Guard exercise

Jun 17, 2010

By Steven D. Ball (USAG Detroit Arsenal)

U.S. Army Garrison - Detroit Arsenal, Mich. -- The Detroit Arsenal participated in a multi-state exercise this week designed to improve command, control and operational relationships with civilian and military partners at the local, regional, state and national levels.

Vigilant Guard is an exercise program sponsored by U.S. Northern Command in conjunction with the National Guard Bureau. The program provides the National Guard Headquarters and supporting units an opportunity to improve command, control, communication and operational relationships with civilian and military partners.

The local portion of the exercise consisted of three different scenarios.

The exercise kicked off Monday with the simulated detection of a possible biological hazardous material by one of the atmospheric monitoring systems at the arsenal. The sample was processed and then transported by the Federal Bureau of Investigations to a lab in Lansing, MI, for confirmation.

"This is the first time we've used a helicopter for this type of scenario," said Pete Watson, garrison emergency manager. "Everything went very smoothly thanks to the cooperation with the FBI and the Warren Police and Oakland County Sheriff departments and the Warren Community Emergency Response Team. We hope this exercise could possible lead to a new national protocol for handling these types of scenarios."

Day two began with the detection of a simulated "white powder" in the mail room on the arsenal. Emergency services responded, established a cordon and set up a personnel decontamination station. Base workers and volunteers from a local high school were processed and transported by Universal Ambulance to St. John Oakland-Macomb hospitals to test hospital response measures also. Again the FBI was heavily involved with the inspection and classification of the substance.

Wednesday's portion of the exercise tested the response to a suspicious package found outside the fence of the arsenal. Local police and fire departments, state police and the FBI responded to mitigate the threat.

"Interagency cooperation was exceptional during this exercise," said Brenda Lee McCullough, garrison manager. "We did have some issues arise just as we likely would in a real world scenario. Everyone adapted, adjusted and resolved all issues on the spot. The great take a way is the fact that everyone involved learned from the issues that arose. Congratulations to all those who planned and participated in this multistate exercise. I am confident that the garrison team and our cooperative agreements with local, state and federal organizations are prepared to face the challenges that could arise."

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