MT’s Vigilant Guard

DRILL REPORT: Montana National Guard’s Vigilant Guard 09 September 15-18

Where: Fort Harrison in Helena, Montana
Who: Federal Emergency Management Agency, US Army Reserves, US Naval Reserves, Defense Coordinating Office, National Weather Service, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Civil Air Patrol, NORTHCOM, Kyrgyzstan troops, Montana Department of Administration, Montana Department of Environmental Quality, Montana Disaster and Emergency Services, Montana Department of Transportation, Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, Montana Department of National Resources and Conservation, Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), Lewis and Clark County, Broadwater County, Jefferson County, Sliver Bow County, Helena Fire Department, Helena Police Department, Helena Public Works, Helena and East Helena School District, Helena Airport, St Peter’s Hospital, Bear Tooth TV Station, Carroll College, Conoco/Phillips, Montana Rail Link, Northwest Energy, St. Peter’s Hospital, Qwest Communications, Yellowstone Pipeline, Bresnan Communications, Montana National Guard, Wyoming National Guard, South Dakota National Guard, North Dakota National Guard, Idaho National Guard, Utah National Guard, Colorado National Guard, California National Guard, Nevada National Guard

Scenario: “The 2009 Vigilant Guard Exercises in Montana will focus on a hypothetical earthquake of 7.2 magnitude.” 
From Public Intelligence (

Montana Vigilant Guard 2009 Exercise

From September 15-18, the Montana National Guard will be performing a joint exercise with FEMA and NORHTCOM to help coordinate emergency response to natural and manmade disasters. The exercise is one of many regional Vigilant Guard exercises being held by the National Guard this year. The Puerto Rico National Guard finished its Vigilant Guard exercise in March and another round of exercises in Iowa ended in June. These Vigilant Guard exercises are part of a larger, national-level program called Ardent Sentry 2009. Ardent Sentry is conducted by NORTHCOM and NORAD and its major “venues” include not only the Vigilant Guard exercises, but an “AMALGAM DART exercise involving air defense activities at Camp Rilea, Oregon” and “a Nuclear Weapons Incident exercise (NUWAIX) with a U.S. Air Force response near Cheyenne, Wyoming.”

According to the National Guard Bureau, Vigilant Guard “provides an opportunity for National Guard Joint Task Forces and field units to improve command and control, and operational relationships with internal, civilian, and military partners against homeland security threats. The exercise involves all the command elements of Northern Command, National Guard Bureau, Department of Defense, U.S. Transportation Command, Department of Homeland Security and other supporting U.S. government agencies.” The exercises are held regionally on a rotating basis. The National Guard says that “the states, divided into regions, have four opportunities per year to test coordinated tactics, techniques and procedures among state and federal civil and military partners in response to a regional level incident. The desired outcome is an increase in readiness while developing partnerships at all levels to enhance the unity of effort in the future.”

A feature of recent exercises has been foreign military involvement. The Iowa Vigilant Guard exercise involved troops from Mexico, Japan, Australia, South Korea, Bahamas, and Senegal. The Montana Vigilant Guard exercise will include the participation of Kyrgzstan.

In addition to unifying “emergency response” and exercising NORTHCOM’s capacity to command local government in times of crisis, the Vigilant Guard exercises are noteworthy because they are connected to the Vigilant Guardian Exercises that were occurring on the morning of September 11, 2001. The Vigilant Guardian Exercises were also conducted by NORAD and featured scenarios that strangely mimicked real-world events. The 2009 Vigilant Guard Exercises in Montana will focus on a hypothetical earthquake of 7.2 magnitude.

A FOUO//LAW ENFORCEMENT SENSITIVE briefing regarding the exercise is available. Two unclassified briefings from the National Guard Bureau and NORTHCOM are also available, one from May 19 and another from June 18.

List of Participants:
State Agencies:
* Department of Administration (DOA)
* Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ)
* Disaster and Emergency Services (DES)
* Department of Transportation (DOT)
* Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPH&HS)
* Department of National Resources and Conservation (DNRC)
Local and County Agencies:
* Sheriff’s Offices
* Public Works
* Rural Fire Departments
* Health Departments
* Library
* Community Emergency Response Team (CERT)
* Lewis and Clark County
* Broadwater County
* Jefferson County
* Sliver Bow County
Local Agencies:
* Helena Fire Department
* Helena Police Department
* Helena Public Works
* Helena and East Helena School District
* Helena Airport
* St Peter’s Hospital
Private Industry:
* Bear Tooth TV Station
* Carroll College
* Conoco/Phillips
* Montana Rail Link
* Northwest Energy
* St. Peter’s Hospital
* Qwest Communications
* Yellowstone Pipeline
* Bresnan Communications
Federal / International Agencies:
* FEMA Region VIII
o Utah Task Force 1 (USAR)
* US Army Reserves (USAR)
* US Naval Reserves (USNR)
* Defense Coordinating Office (DCO)
* National Weather Service
* Federal Bureau of Investigation
* Civil Air Patrol
* Kyrgyzstan
Participating Montana National Guard Units:
* 120th Med Grp
* 120th Public Affairs
* 120th Security
* 219th RH
* 208th RTI
* 67th Sig Co
* 484th MP
* 120th Mission Spt Grp
* 120th Logistics
* 120th Fire
* 120th Services
* 120th Communications
* 1049th FFTG
* E/145th Forward Sp
* 1-189th GSAB
National Guard Units from Other States:
* Wyoming,  South Dakota,  North Dakota,  Idaho,  Utah,  Colorado, California,  Nevada
List of Venues:
* MT State Emergency Coordination Center
* MT Joint Information Center
* Lewis & Clark County PIO –at County Building
* Lewis & Clark County Emergency Operations Center
* Helena Airport
* Rubble Pile and Burning House (Airport)
* Lewis & Clark County Fairgrounds (Staging Area)
* Capitol Complex
* St. Peters Hospital
* St. James Hospital, Butte
* Carroll College
* Train Derailment (Montana City, East Helena)
* VA Hospital
* Fort Harrison


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