State Spotlight: Indiana

81st Troop Command Trains to Defend Nation Against Large-scale Disasters

EDINBURGH, Ind. – What would happen to the social order if a massive flood left people in an Indiana community stranded in their homes? What if an earthquake were to decimate the infrastructure of a city in California, or if a hurricane demolished a small town on the East Coast?

It may be difficult to fathom, but how would the nation’s population react if the unthinkable happened, and a major U.S. city became the target of a nuclear attack?

A fundamental duty of the Army National Guard is standing ready to respond to catastrophic scenarios such as these. Every year, Indiana’s 81st Troop Command trains alongside other emergency service specialists to ensure they are prepared to answer the call for all citizens of the United States, no matter where they live.

Forces from the 81st Troop Command are trained to work overseas or on the home front, including disaster situations that occur outside of Indiana. If a large-scale emergency overwhelms the first responders of another state, the Indiana National Guard must stand ready to answer the call.

The 81st Troop Command collaborated with disaster response specialists from across the Nation last week for Guardian Response 2017. The annual exercise is a multi-national, multi-organizational training exercise focused on preparing troops to efficiently respond to an international or domestic catastrophe.

National Guard members take part in a crowd control exercise during Guardian Response 17. Simulated riots were staged in order to prepare first responder groups to react to a major crisis. (Photo by SGT Evan Myers.)

National Guard members take part in a crowd control exercise during Guardian Response 17. Simulated riots were staged in order to prepare first responder groups to react to a major crisis. (Photo by SGT Evan Myers.)

The 81st War Eagles worked out of a Joint Operations Center (JOC) at Camp Atterbury to support an assembly of emergency response forces from across the Nation. Troops in the field conducted 24-hour search and rescue exercises at Muscatatuck Urban Training Facility.

“They’re training to be able to respond immediately to any kind of event that requires some kind of decontamination,” said CSM Dale Shetler of 81st Troop Command.

While live training exercises took place in Muscatatuck, the organization of the action for Guardian Response occurred behind the scenes.

“We’re doing a lot of 24-hour JOC operations this year,” CSM Shetler said. “It’s not always a lot of field training, so that will be different for some of our Soldiers. But it’s also a big part of their jobs, just like picking up their weapon and marching through the woods, so it’s good training.”

The event allows Indiana National Guard units to develop their capabilities and improve their overall readiness by working alongside other organizations with a substantial number of experts in emergency response procedures, said BG David N. Vesper.

“We get to liaise and work directly with a variety of agencies,” BG Vesper said. “We work with Title 10, the federal Army. We work with FEMA, the Department of Homeland Security, and FAA, and it allows us to understand their capabilities and limitations so we can work more effectively.”

National Guard forces from multiple states prepare troops to coordinate operational strategies with civilian agencies in the event that the Soldiers are required to deploy to a different state.

“For 81st Troop Command, our value is in commanding and controlling a response to a large national incident,” BG Vesper said. “It is a fortunate fact that Indiana is – from a natural hazards point of view – one of the safest states in the Nation. So should there be a large-scale national disaster, it is likely that Indiana will go assist other states.”

So if helping your State and your country is something you want to do, consider joining the Army National Guard. Besides training for disasters, you’ll also receive training for a career. There are more than 150 options to explore on our job board.

And because Guard service is typically part-time, Soldiers are able go to college or vocational school using the Guard’s education benefits, and pursue civilian careers. For more information, contact your local recruiter.

From an original story by SGT Evan Myers120th Public Affairs Detachment, which originally appeared in the news section of in May 2017.

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