Alaska Army National Guard supports community with multi-agency exercise

By Airman 1st Class Cassandra Whitman 354th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

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The 103rd Weapons of Mass Destruction-Civil Support Team, composed of Alaska Army National Guard Soldiers and Alaska Air National Guard Airmen, hosted an exercise in Fairbanks, Alaska, Aug. 23 for different agencies in the area including Eielson Air Force Base and Fort Wainwright.

The exercise provided an opportunity for different agencies to train together on Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Environmental agents.

“The main objective of the exercise was to train as we fight,” said Capt. Melkart Hawi, the 103rd WMD-CST operations officer. “We trained with the different organizations we would support if real-world emergencies were to happen.”

The Fairbanks Fire Department, 354th Civil Engineer Squadron, FBI, and the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation were just a few of the players involved with the exercise.

“Coming together to get to know the people you will potentially work with is important,” explained Hawi. “We’re learning how the pieces fit together before the real thing happens.”

Tech. Sgt. Tyler Brown, a 354th CES installation emergency manager, said testing inter-agency operability is an important factor when so many different organizations come together to respond to an emergency.

“Our team learned valuable information on the other agencies that participated,” said Brown. “We learned how we integrate with them and their mission in this type of emergency.”

Hawi explained how the National Guard has a dual mission to support the nation.

“One mission is to support federal, overseas war deployments by deploying our units,” said Hawi. “The second mission is to support our state in emergencies. We are given funds to set up these exercises between the different state agencies so we can connect before real events. It’s always important to know who you’re working with and understand we are all working toward the same goal.”

Hawi said the National Guard works to bridge the gap between the agencies and explained they are not there to take over the situation, but to lend support to the civil authorities on scene.

“This is a great representation of Citizen Soldiers [and Airmen] responding at a moment’s notice to support the community,” said Hawi.