Saturday, October 22, 2011

Wisconsin National Guard validates its reaction force

Manning security perimeters and road blocks, and facing protestors - all in a day's work, or two, for the National Guard Reaction Force (NGRF).

The Wisconsin National Guard's NGRF completed a two-day exercise (Oct. 14) at Fort McCoy designed to validate its ability to respond in support of local authorities in the event of a real emergency. In this exercise the scenario called for a security mission at the Kewaunee Power Station (nuclear power plant) due to a nuclear emergency declaration at the site.

Maj. Joseph Adamson, the plans officer with the Wisconsin National Guard Joint Staff, said the NGRF demonstrated proficiency at roadblocks, check points, vehicle searches and critical site security.

"These guys know the task and they know it very well," Adamson said.

Part of the scenario involved anti-nuclear power protestors who arrived on the scene and became unruly, requiring a crowd control team to assemble and prevent the situation from escalating.

The crowd control team - complete with face shields, body shields, shin guards and riot batons - formed a skirmish line and slowly advanced toward the protestors.

"Under the authority of the Kewaunee County Sheriff, you must vacate the area," a team leader ordered the protestors over a loudspeaker.

Without making physical contact, the skirmish line moved the protestors away from the site to a point down the road where they could safely disperse. Once at that point, the crowd control team lowered its body shields but maintained its line formation, clearly indicating that no harm was intended to the protestors but that they would not be allowed past the skirmish line.

The NGRF is a ready combat arms force which, upon request from the governor or president, provides an initial force package of up to 125 personnel within eight hours and a follow-on force of up to 375 personnel within 24 hours. The NGRF mission rotates each year - this year it is shared by Soldiers from 1st Squadron, 105th Cavalry.

Lt. Col. David May, deputy director of domestic operations with the Wisconsin National Guard Joint Staff, said the validation exercise went well.

"The preliminary results are extremely positive," he said, noting that the official validation is still about one month away. "This was a valuable experience for Soldiers to adjust how they approach tasks that are used in both wartime and domestic operations. They were quickly able to adopt an appropriate posture for a Wisconsin operation."

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