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Indiana National Guard practices disaster response

A member of the Indiana National Guard discusses mission plans with civilian counterparts during exercise Homeland Defender Aug. 14, 2021. More than 500 Soldiers, Airmen and civilian first responders participated in the scenario involving an earthquake and cyberattacks.

A member of the Indiana National Guard discusses mission plans with civilian counterparts during exercise Homeland Defender Aug. 14, 2021. More than 500 Soldiers, Airmen and civilian first responders participated in the scenario involving an earthquake and cyberattacks.

BUTLERVILLE, Ind. – More than 500 Indiana National Guard Soldiers and Airmen and civilian first responders trained together to respond to a disaster Aug. 13-15 in a scenario that involved a catastrophic earthquake, chaos and cyberattacks.

The Indiana National Guard, the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, Indiana Task Force One, Indiana Office of Technology and other state and local partners teamed up to conduct the training event at the Muscatatuck Urban Training Center.

"The National Guard has a dual mission," said Brig. Gen. Dale Lyles, Indiana's adjutant general. "In addition to providing warfighting troops to the president, we also have a state mission. This dynamic multiagency training is exactly how we ensure our force is ready and reliable at all times."

The chaos following a natural disaster can come in many shapes and sizes, such as ransomware.

Before the earthquake in this scenario, local media reported several ransomware attempts across local infrastructure. Shortly after the earthquake, one main water supply went offline, cutting off water to the northern half of the city. At the same time, an employee reported his computer mouse moving on its own. The city is then confronted with a ransomware demand of $5 million to restore water plant functions.

Simultaneously, there were reports of multiple building collapses from the earthquake, increased civil unrest and chemical spills across the city. The joint incident command post coordinated relief efforts.

"It is always nice to come to a training area that has a location dedicated to structural collapse," said Tom Neal, the program manager for Indiana Task Force One. "Skills are perishable. The more we interact with teams like the National Guard here, the more prepared we are if something like the Surfside condo collapse occurs, so we can be force multipliers in that recovery mission."

The exercise enabled units to train collectively, share tactics and procedures.

"Watching all these moving parts come together is truly priceless," said Col. Tamala A. Saylor, the 181st Intelligence Wing commander. "This level of coordination and complex domestic response training is how we will save lives during the real crisis."

The Muscatatuck Urban Training Center is a large urban training facility with physical infrastructure and a well-integrated cyber-physical environment.

"This has been a great exercise for all of us because we are learning so much," said Toby Liff, a Monroe County Fire battalion chief. "Naturally, we know some things they don't know, and they know a lot of things we don't know. So when we get together, it's always mutually beneficial."
 

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