USNORTHCOM commander visits Vigilant Guard 2014 in Kansas

By Capt. Michael Sullivan 105th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

Gen. Charles H. Jacoby, Jr., commander of the North American Aerospace Defense Command and United States Northern Command, visited the Great Plants Joint Training Center including Crisis City in Salina, Kansas, to observe training at Vigilant Guard 2014 Aug. 4, 2014.

Vigilant Guard is a large-scale, multi-state disaster response exercise sponsored by USNORTHCOM and the National Guard Bureau with a goal of testing the capabilities of emergency response agencies at all levels of government, both military and civilian.

Jacoby said exercises like Vigilant Guard are important to all involved because these types of scenarios are complicated and involve several components.

“To be able to come together and get to know each other and learn what each organization brings to the table is critical,” said Jacoby. “Exercises and training equals preparedness (which) equals readiness for the defense support for civil authorities.”

More than 2,000 local, state and federal personnel are taking part over the course of the exercise. The six-day exercise is taking place at several locations in the state, including Crisis City and Smoky Hill Weapons Range outside of Salina, Fort Riley, Overland Park, Topeka and Wichita.

After being briefed and visiting with Soldiers and Airmen assigned to Joint Task Force Santa Fe, Jacoby was able to observe and interact with first responders and volunteer role players who were participating in a collapsed structure venue and the subsequent hazmat response at Crisis City. JTF Santa Fe is comprised of service members from Kansas National Guard’s 35th Infantry Division and 190th Air Refueling Wing.

“I loved what I saw out here,” said Jacoby. “I saw lots of units from different places working with first responders. For USNORTHCOM, we spend a big part of our training budget to support Vigilant Guard exercises. For me to see the value that comes from each one of those dollars encourages me and makes me feel like we have the right priorities. It is terrific. My hat is off to the Kansas leadership for sponsoring this.”