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Tennessee Guard, Local Partners Practice Disaster Response

  • Published
  • By Capt. Kealy Moriarty,
  • Tennessee National Guard Public Affairs Office

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee National Guard and state and local first responders tested their emergency response capabilities May 15-19 during the Tennessee Maneuvers exercise involving simulated widespread flooding in Southeast Tennessee.

“Disaster exercises are the best to improve our disaster response readiness,” said Lt. Col. Dallas Clements, Tennessee National Guard’s deputy director of military support. “Our goal is to make these events as realistic and complex as possible to better train our personnel.”

The exercise occurs in different counties each year, depending on the scenario. This year, the exercise took place in 15 counties in Southeast Tennessee.

“Emergencies and disasters can happen anywhere, so it’s important to train with different agencies and counties within the state to further streamline our joint capabilities in emergency situations,” said Capt. Autumn Hester, the exercise planner.

The scenario involved severe flooding that exercised the joint response capabilities of the Tennessee National Guard, Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, Tennessee State Guard, Nashville Fire Department, Tennessee Valley Authority and county first responders. 

Simulated widespread flooding required search and rescue operations, critical site security, communication interoperability and infrastructure failure response. 

“The Tennessee National Guard is always a support agency to civil authorities when it comes to disaster response and recovery,” said Clements. “With that in mind, we need exercises like this to build and sustain those relationships with interagency partners as well as help us build capabilities.”

As part of this year’s Tennessee Maneuvers, and for the first time, the Tennessee Army and Air National Guard showcased their joint capabilities during a refueling mission. A UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter required additional fuel to continue a search and rescue mission. A C-17 Globemaster III from the 164th Airlift Wing received fuel via aerial refueling from a KC-135 Stratotanker from the 134th Air Refueling Wing. The C-17 transported the fuel to the simulated austere location of the UH-60 Black Hawk, where Soldiers and Airmen refueled it so the crew could continue its mission.

“This portion of Tennessee Maneuvers allowed us to demonstrate our ability to transport large amounts of fuel very quickly to disaster-stricken regions,” said Clements. “TEMA, Arnold Engineering Development Center, and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation helped us accomplish this portion of the exercise.”

The exercise incorporated other military equipment used to respond in disasters, including the Light Medium Tactical Vehicle, which can carry up to 15 people and has high ground clearance, and the M60 Armored Vehicle Launched Bridge, which can deploy a 60-foot scissor-type bridge over obstacles. The 190th Engineer Company used an M60 to build a temporary bridge, enabling passage lanes for vehicle traffic in flooded areas.

The Helicopter Aquatic Rescue Team, comprising the Tennessee Army National Guard’s 1-230th Assault Helicopter Battalion and Nashville Fire Department rescue divers, demonstrated its capabilities along the Tennessee River in Hamilton County. The 45th Civil Support Team simulated boat rescues in flooded areas.