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NEWS | April 17, 2018

Army Reserve, National Guard partner for disaster training

By Staff Sgt. Carolyn Hawkins 318th Press Camp Headquarters

U.S. Army Reserve Maj. Gen. Ray Royalty, commanding general of the 84th Training Command out of Fort Knox, Kentucky and Gen. Joseph L. Lengyel, chief of the National Guard Bureau, met at Muscatatuck Urban Training Center, April 14, 2018, to review training and discuss Guardian Response 18.

Guardian Response 18 is an Army Total Force exercise where Soldiers from all three components must work together to respond effectively to a Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear scenario. The Army Reserve and National Guard partnered together to make the training a success.

The Army Reserve has provided the equipment and the observer controller trainers for the training.

“We have the OCTs, so we work with CBRN Response Element-A and CRE-B. It is seamless either way when we are having to give them the feedback,” said Royalty. “It has been pleasurable working with the guard and the Army Reserve.”

Royalty said Guardian Response 18 has been good for the Army Reserve, because it has provided an opportunity to build a relationship with Defense Support of Civil Authorities. This DSCA mission is new for the Army Reserve.

Royalty added that the Army Reserve is building partnerships with the National Guard because of their continuing understanding of DSCA, and all of that happens at Guardian Response in MUTC. The Army Reserve, traditionally, did not have any experience with DSCA. However, the National Guard has worked with them for years.

“Over the past couple of years, we started to migrate toward doing some of that, and it just continues to help build our bench on the Army Reserve side,” said Royalty.

The Army Reserve's Guardian Response 18 exercise is also beneficial for the guard because it helps them prepare for a worst-case scenario.

“This is a very important exercise. We need to bring our skill set, because we are the only ones that really think about this every day. We are postured all around the United States, so when something bad happens, the people who are going to come to the aid of the first responders are going to be the National Guard,” said Lengyel. “So coming here and protecting the skill sets, the search and rescue, the medical, all that we do here, as part of this exercise in Guardian Response, will help us all be ready when that worst day happens.”

The Army Reserve’s role in Guardian Response 18 is an important asset for all of the components on the ground here.

“It increases the capabilities across the Army enterprise,” said Royalty. “If you only had the National Guard focus on DSCA, your resources would run out rather quickly, so if you have a larger engagement, and if you have others you could reach out to, you are just building your bench by pulling the Army Reserve in.”

The Army Reserve and National Guard participated in Guardian Response 18 for the first half, said Royalty, and the active component comes in for the second half. And they will go through some of the same mission sets. It is a learning curve across all of the components.

The Guardian Response 18 and Vibrant Response 18 exercises are linked.

“There are notional actions, and then there are actual actions on the ground,” said Royalty. “Somebody at Vibrant Response 18 is taking the missions from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and translating those on a notional perspective. A lot of things they’re doing with Vibrant Response are notional. Then some of it trickles down and actually gets exercised right here in Muscatatuck.”

“That is the beauty of it,” Royalty continued. “It is a seamless action all the way from the mission assignment tasking order.”

When anything bad happens, all branches of service and components will respond to an authority called Immediate Response, said Lengyel. Everybody will come, they will save lives. We need to understand how each organization does business and how we work together. When we come together here, we’re able to practice so that when the bad day happens, we’re able to build on the training and experiences we have here now in Guardian Response.

“(Guardian Response) is a great opportunity to work with counterparts on the National Guard side, and for the Army Reserve side to meet each other and work through complex problems,” said Royalty. “That helps build that relationship. If something does happen, those relationships are already there.”