Members of the 32nd Civil Support Team of the Maryland National Guard suit up to perform simulated hazardous material recovery operations during Exercise Vigilant Guard in downtown Baltimore. Photo by
Maryland National Guard
BALTIMORE (Maryland National Guard, Sept. 19, 2007) - Soldiers of the Maryland National Guard's 115th Military Police Battalion were among the first troops securing the scene at the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, and six years later, some of these same Soldiers are fully engaged in a homeland defense exercise aimed at preparing for a potential repeat of that day's events - training they hope never to use.It's called Exercise Vigilant Guard, and it's an annual training exercise sponsored by the National Guard Bureau at locations across the country. One such exercise took place in Maryland Sept. 5-7."Exercises such as Vigilant Guard ensure the National Guard is as prepared as possible in order to respond to any contingency that may occur," said Maj. Gen. Bruce F. Tuxill, the adjutant general of Maryland. "Having Soldiers and Airmen who are trained, equipped and ready for domestic emergencies is at the heart of the National Guard mission."The terrorist attack scenario unfolded over the course of the three-day exercise. The first two days were played out on computer screens and communication equipment at the Joint Operations Center at Camp Fretterd Military Reservation in Reisterstown, Md., primarily testing the Maryland Guard's ability to coordinate and interoperate with other state and local agencies.Using simulated reports - "notional injects" in exercise parlance - from a variety of sources, the scenario unfolded. First a truck bomb collapsed a span of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge during rush hour traffic. Next, a bomb exploded on a rail line, derailing a train near the Baltimore-Washington International Airport. As public concern spread, traffic approached gridlock and telephone lines become overwhelmed. Suspected terrorists next fired an anti-tank rocket at a train in downtown Baltimore, followed by a shoot-out with city police who found a suspicious white powder in their vehicle near the M&T Bank Stadium.With local responders overwhelmed, the situation became serious enough to require military assistance, and Gov. Martin O'Malley called out the National Guard.The third day of events was no longer just notional; it was full of action as National Guard troops, Baltimore City Police Department, Baltimore City Fire Department and other local first responders swung into action and actually implemented their response in downtown Baltimore.A cloud of debris rose from a parking lot in downtown Baltimore as Maryland National Guard UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters landed near the stadium and began to disperse Soldiers from the 115th Military Police Battalion's Initial Reaction Force. Soon the Guardsman had assessed the situation and deployed their forces, setting up checkpoints and patrolling the streets.Meanwhile, Soldiers and Airmen of 32nd Civil Support Team, who specialize in detecting nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, donned blue HAZMAT suits and attempted to analyze materials at the scene.For added realism, the whole operation was under the scrutiny of "mock media" - reporters and news cameramen played by members of the Maryland National Guard and the Maryland Emergency Management Agency.As the military police and HAZMAT teams worked to contain the situation, members of the 29th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment and the 175th Wing formed a Joint Media Operations Center to respond to reporters' questions and increase the flow of information to a worried public.In the end, the scene was secured and the threat identified.More important, the goal of the exercise was achieved: to prepare for the worst. As Vigilant Guard came to a close, Col. Pete Hinz, the Joint Task Force commander, reflected on the overall intent of the exercise."Although this was a National Guard Bureau sponsored event, Vigilant Guard really encapsulated some of Gov. O'Malley's 12 Homeland Security Goals. Three of the main goals we exercised here today were interoperability among many of the first responders, hazardous material recovery and training, training, training," Col. Hinz said."We have learned a lot from this exercise and will use these lessons learned to continue to improve our homeland readiness here in Maryland."
"Exercise Pacific Shield 07"
Japan to host multinational WMD intercept drill in October
TOKYO, Sept 18 (KUNA) -- Japan will host a multinational Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) exercise southwest of Tokyo October 13-15 in an effort to prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction (WMD).
"Australia, France, New Zealand, Singapore, the UK, and the US will participate in the PSI Maritime Interdiction Exercise 'Pacific Shield 07,' to be held in the eastern sea area off Izu Oshima, and Yokosuka and Yokohama ports," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement Tuesday.
180,000 Private Contractors Flood Iraq
A US private security officer with his face covered against dust, sits in a Chinook helicopter as they accompany Iraq's US civilian administrator L. Paul Bremer on a visit to the southern marsh areas of Iraq in this Thursday, Sept 18, 2003 file photo near the southern Iraqi city of Basra. The Iraqi Interior Ministry said Monday Sept. 17, 2007that it was pulling the license of an American security firm allegedly involved in the fatal shooting of civilians during an attack on a U.S. State Department motorcade in Baghdad. Interior Ministry spokesman Abdul-Karim Khalaf said eight people were killed and 13 were wounded when security contractors working for Blackwater USA opened fire in a predominantly Sunni neighborhood of western Baghdad. The spokesman said witness reports pointed to Blackwater involvement but said the incident was still under investigation. (AP Photo/Karel Prinsloo, File) (Karel Prinsloo - AP)
WASHINGTON -- The United States has assembled an imposing industrial army in Iraq larger than its uniformed fighting force and responsible for a such a broad swath of responsibilities the military might not be able to operate without its private-sector partners.
More than 180,000 Americans, Iraqis, and nationals from other countries work under a slew of federal contracts to provide security, gather intelligence, build roads, forge a financial system, and transport needed supplies in a country the size of California.
That figure contrasts with the 163,100 U.S. military personnel, according to U.S. Central Command in Tampa, Fla., the organization responsible for military operations in the Middle East. The Pentagon puts the military figure at 169,000. There are another 12,400 coalition forces in Iraq.
But it has its dangers. Employees for Blackwater USA were involved in a weekend shooting that left 11 Iraqis dead.
The heavy reliance on contractors in a war zone is partly the result of a post-Cold War shrinking of the armed forces and the Bush administration's preference for contracting out government functions to the corporate world.
Bush Urges Congress To Further Expand Spy Powers
Mock bomb exercise at Fort Lee
Drill tests ability to face real thing
Local officials drill for disaster
Public health drills for emergencies
*as always..thanks to Nico Haupt:
10/16: Forthcoming huge FCS/DEW 3 Day Conference in Huntsville, Alabama