CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – The West Virginia National Guard will host a major, regional full-scale disaster training exercise next August.
Vigilant Guard 2021 is designed to improve coordination, operational relationships and response plans of agencies across the Mountain State as well as nearby states to prepare for emergencies and catastrophic events, according to West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice. The event is set to take place at the Hobet All Hazards Training Center.
“I’m extremely proud that West Virginia has been selected as the next host of this crucial emergency response training program,” Justice said. “I know in my soul that the exercises that will be done here will safeguard people and save lives in our state and many others.”
According to the governor, Vigilant Guard 2021 is a nine-day exercise conducted in coordination with United States Northern Command, the National Guard Bureau, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
He says the training scenarios will involve both land-based and airborne operations across a wide scope of disaster-related mission requirements, such as advanced medical response; search and rescue activities; and Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and Explosives (CBRNE) operations.
The governor says local, state, and federal government agencies, professional public safety agencies, volunteer public safety and disaster groups, and military units from throughout FEMA Region III will participate in the exercise. FEMA Region III includes West Virginia, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia. Justice says other organizations from as far away as Massachusetts have already signed on to participate.
“Disaster operations are a critical part of the Guard’s National Homeland Defense mission,” said Maj. Gen. James Hoyer, Adjutant General of the WVNG. “When disaster strikes, we all work in a collaborative, whole-of-government environment to respond to the needs of those impacted. Working proactively with our regional partners, learning each other’s capabilities and operational structures, and building trust prior to a large-scale disaster is fundamentally important so we can respond as quickly and effectively as possible.
The exercise is expected to draw more than 1,000 participants to the Rock Creek Development Park on the former Hobet mining site in Boone and Lincoln counties. The governor says it will also have a “significant economic impact” on the area. He also says as more military units and civilian organizations book the Hobet All Hazards Training Center for training purposes, the facility is expected to generate additional economic impact over the coming years.
“Being able to host this exercise in West Virginia, showcasing our own unique facilities and capabilities for our regional partners, while also giving our folks the practical hands-on experience of leading such an important exercise is a phenomenal opportunity and one we are very much looking forward to,” Hoyer added.
The governor says additional venues in the Mountain State may be added to increase training opportunities during the exercise, however, the Hobet site will remain the primary location for activities.
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