Wisconsin, Minnesota National Guard units take part in Vigilant Guard exercise

Members of the Wis. and Minn. National Guard take part in a emergency response exercise involving hazardous materials. | Courtesy of the Wis. Department of Military Affairs

Members of the Wisconsin National Guard's Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and High Yield Explosives (CBRNE) unit teamed up with Minnesota National Guard members in a emergency response exercise this past week.

The exercise that took place was the Vigilant Guard Joint Regional Exercise Program that allowed the CBRNE Enhanced Response Force Package (CERFP) of Wisconsin to take part in hands-on simulations of CBRNE related events, mass casualty incidents and natural disaster response. It focused on enhancing capabilities in emergency coordination, response and recovery operations.

“If and when the CERFP is called to duty, I expect that it would be a significant disaster that would require more than one CERFP, possibly the homeland response force, and definitely different agencies …and that requires a training program that involves multistate, multijurisdictional, higher level players,” Lt. Col. Scott Southworth, CERFP commander, said. “Vigilant Guard offers us the ability to connect not only with institutions like the St. Paul Fire Department, but really work hand in hand with Minnesota CERFP.”

This training also allowed service members to interact with outside and civilian agencies that the CERFP may not have an opportunity to see within strictly military operations. 

"[The] best part about the CERFP is the interoperability of Air Force and Army personnel working seamlessly together, bringing all of those military skills and those civilian talents into the CERFP enterprise,” Southworth said. “That’s what makes us strong.”