Alaska National Guard responds to simulated terrorist threat
Kalei Rupp, a National Guard spokesperson, said the exercise involved the Alaska Army National Guard's 103rd Civil Support Team for Weapons of Mass Destruction. The team and other responders dealt with simulated chemical, biological and radiological threats during the exercise, KTUU.com reports.
"The exercise, dubbed Exercise Orca, revolved around the scenario of eco-terrorists, known to have chemists within their group, who (threatened) commercial fish and aqua-culture industries in Southeast Alaska," Rupp said, according to KTUU.com. "The terrorists set up a clandestine lab in the old Fort Rousseau on Makhnati Island in Sitka where they were notionally manufacturing unlicensed radioactive materials and spreading it through food at a local bazaar causing possible radiation poisoning."
Lt. Col. Stephen Wilson, the 103rd's commander, said the deployment would examine the team's ability to defend against terrorist threats and whether it could do so in a remote location.
"Our primary purpose for this exercise was to test our ability to respond to a remote location in Alaska, understand the town's capabilities, interact with a small town's command post and assess our interoperability among several agencies," Wilson said, according to KTUU.com. "We also tested the Civil Support Team's response, as well as the community's response, to a chemical, biological and radiological hazard."
Al Steven's, the Sitka Fire Department's operations section chief, said the cooperation between local and National Guard officials was an integral part of the simulation.
"This is the first time we had an exercise of this magnitude involving weapons of mass destruction," Stevens said, according to KTUU.com. "We're a small southeast community that doesn't have near the capabilities to respond to a large incident like this, so it's good to train with the military and other agencies that we would call upon in this type of situation."
Multiple groups took part in the exercise, including other Army and Guard units, the Sitka Police Department and representatives from the state Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. The National Guard said the exercise was a success and that it served as good practice for potential threats, KTUU.com reports.