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June 24, 2011

Training

Red Dragon Exercise prepares units to react to emergency scenarios

EAST POINT, Ga. (335th Signal Command (Theater)) — Wisconsin and Fort McCoy were part of the June Red Dragon Exercise, a Homeland Defense scenario designed to test responses, including decontamination procedures, in the event of a biological disaster, such as a terrorist attack. The exercise ran from June 2-13.
PHOTO: U.S. Army Soldiers of the 485th Chemical Battalion assist a mock casualty on a body board during Red Dragon. Photo by Spc. Corinna Jenkins
U.S. Army Soldiers of the 485th Chemical Battalion assist a mock casualty on a body board during Red Dragon. Victims who were unable to walk were secured to body boards and guided through the decontamination tent during the exercise at Meadowview Intermediate School in Sparta, Wis. (Photo by Spc. Corinna Jenkins)

Red Dragon is an annual chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear-driven exercise. The scenarios were developed in coordination with local first responders and authorities as well as civilian medical personnel.

In the Fort McCoy area, several units used Fort McCoy as their staging/training grounds. Units went through a “crawl/walk “phase at the installation before responding to the off-site locations for the “run” phase.

Soldiers at Fort McCoy trained on using the BIDS, biological integrated detection systems, which gives participants the ability to detect and analyze the presence of threatening contaminants in the air.

One of the areas the Soldiers deployed to from Fort McCoy was the Sparta Meadowview Intermediate School. While on site, Soldiers assisted local personnel in responding to the various scenarios.

The 335th Signal Command (Theater) was the lead organization in Red Dragon. To fight terrorists on the technological battlefield, the Army uses signal Soldiers to create and defend communication networks in the time of war and for homeland defense. The 335th coordinated setting up a nationwide communications network to tie together exercises taking place in Augusta and Forest Park, Ga.; Talledega and Pell City, Ala.; Fountain Inn, S.C.; Arlington Heights and Lake Forest, Ill., and Fort McCoy and several communities in Wisconsin.

To make it as real-world as possible, the Army’s 1st Information Command was tasked to hack into the network and test its security. This is necessary because exercise officials said it replicates in-theater conditions, and many people believe they can use their cell phones or personal computers to communicate during emergencies.

Past emergencies, such as 9/11 or Katrina, however, have shown this not true.

The existing commercial infrastructure in 9-11 and Katrina was either overwhelmed or destroyed, so other means of communications are necessary.

(Information in this story is from the 335th Signal Command (Theater) Public Affairs Office and exercise Public Affairs support staff.)

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