Home : Features : 2009 : Vigilant Guard : Iowa
Vigilant Guard Iowa

What is "Vigilant Guard"?

Vigilant Guard is an annual training event testing the coordination of local, state, regional, and national disaster preparedness among federal, military, and private-sector organizations. Each year, the event rotates to a different region designated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and is hosted by one state or territory within that region.

Hosted by the Iowa National Guard, Vigilant Guard 2009 takes place from June 18-25 in FEMA Region VII, which includes the states of Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, and Missouri. Additionally, this year's event is linked to Ardent Sentry 2009, a nationwide collection of active-duty military exercises that tests air defense, maritime security, logistics and other preparedness.

What is the exercise scenario?

Vigilant Guard 2009 comprises four types of simulated events: Flood conditions in Northwest Iowa and Northeast Nebraska. Explosive attacks on railroad infrastructure near the Iowa and Kansas state capitols. The introduction of a Foreign Animal Disease (FAD), affecting only cattle. The introduction of gastro-intestinal anthrax, affecting only human populations.

In the scenario, heavy spring rains result in flooding in Northwest Iowa and Northeast Nebraska. The governors of each state soon declare multiple counties as disaster areas. Approximately one-third of the Iowa National Guard is deployed overseas.

Simultaneously, police collect information regarding potential acts of domestic terrorism. An explosive incident occurs upwind of the Iowa capitol complex in Des Moines, Iowa. A 22-member National Guard Civil Support Team (CST) is dispatched to help analyze and assess the site. Within hours, a 225-member National Guard CBRNE1 Enhanced Response Force Package (CERFP) unit travels from Nebraska to assist in victim extraction and decontamination. Additional CSTs from other states arrive to relieve and replace the initial response team. In the days following the Des Moines domestic terrorism event, state agricultural and public health agencies face growing evidence that animal and human diseases have been introduced into Iowa populations. After another explosive event occurs in Kansas, a CST is airlifted from Des Moines to the Kansas incident area. While the number and types of simultaneous events may seem to defy believability, the exercise tempo is calculated to stress each level of response to a near-breaking point, in order to optimize cooperation among civilian, military, and private-sector organizations.