CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia National Guard was hard at work Thursday preparing for whatever disaster nature or humans throw their way. It was the annual Force Protection Exercise.
Five hundred members of the Army and Air Guard participated in the one-day event at 11 locations around the state including Charleston and Martinsburg.
“This is an opportunity for us to sharpen our emergency response skills,” explained Lt. Stacy Gault. “This is a scheduled, annual event but we are constantly training for these types of events.”
It’s part of Army Anti-terrorism Month. The Guard is given a number of scenarios and then must deal with them. It could be a snow storm, a flood or a terror attack on West Virginia.
“It corresponds with our duel mission. We have both the federal mission and the state mission and part of that state mission is we have a responsibility to the people of West Virginia to protect them,” said Gault.
But the Guard doesn’t act in a vacuum. Part of the exercise involves working with others so when the real thing happens, they’re prepared.
“It allows us the opportunity to work with state and local authorities, building those relationships with those agencies,” stressed Gault. “And also practice communicating between all these locations.”
Gault said when disaster strikes, it’s a lot easier if the Guard can deal with civilian authorities they know and trust.