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Homeland Security

Soldiers ready to defend the homeland with domestic response training at Exercise Vigilant Shield

By Scott Sturkol, Fort McCoy Public Affairs Office November 21, 2017

FORT MCCOY, Wis. -- Ghostly underground tunnels. Murky sewers. Collapsed buildings. These are just a few of the obstacles that 10th Mountain Division Soldiers faced recently during exercise Vigilant Shield 18 here.

Sponsored by U.S. Northern Command and the North American Aerospace Defense Command, the exercise enhanced Soldiers' rapid deployment capabilities in case of a domestic emergency or an attack on the homeland.

While at Fort McCoy, the Soldiers trained mainly at the Combined Arms Collective Training Facility, or CACTF. Tom Hoff, CACTF manager, said the complex is an ideal location for all types of training, including the urban-terrain training taking place during the exercise.

"The CACTF is set up to be as realistic a training environment as possible so the people who train here can train in ways that are as close to a real-world situation as possible," Hoff said.

The support buildings in the CACTF complex represent multistory residential, commercial, government, business, and industrial operations, Hoff explained. Underground tunnel and sewer training areas also are on site. The complex includes a subway station building and a Structure Collapse Venue Site, which can support rescue training by firefighters and other emergency responders.

The 100 Soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division units also used the fort's multi-use live fire range for tactical site exploitation training, according to Larry Richardson of the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security's Range Scheduling.

The Soldiers also traveled White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, as part of the exercise, training for possible domestic scenarios that would require close cooperation with local law enforcement who might not be familiar with military operations.

The fast-paced training included conducting security sweeps and patrols, setting up observation points, and implementing infrastructure defense strategies. "Scenarios like suspicious persons, lost hunters, and guard shift changes were played out, giving the Soldiers a chance to practice handling situations that are likely to occur during a real domestic defense operation," said John Hamilton of White Sands Missile Range Public Affairs.

While the 10th Mountain Soldiers perfected their skills and strategies during the exercise, the installations that hosted them also played a valuable role in homeland security by providing world-class training venues.

"This training support system enterprise that we have at Fort McCoy comes together every year to work this training synchronization in a superb manner," said Brad Stewart, director of the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security. "Everyone involved in this enterprise across the installation should be proud of the work that's been done."

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