Fort McCoy News Jan. 22, 2016

Exercise fosters emergency-management readiness

BY SCOTT T. STURKOL
Public Affairs Staff

Exercise Vigilant Triad was initiated at Fort McCoy in 2009. Since then, it has proven to be crucial in keeping the installation's emergency-management plan on the cutting edge of readiness, said Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security (DPTMS) Director Brad Stewart.

"With this exercise, we look to see what are the most probable, current, or dangerous types of threats to the installation," Stewart said. "Any time anyone talks about a threat, they often immediately go back to thinking it's a terrorist-type activity, but you have to look at things differently. For us, for example, a likely 'threat' scenario would be a severe-weather incident."

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Fort McCoy military and civilian workforce members meet in the Installation Emergency Operations Center during the exercise. Photo by Greg Mason

Regardless of the scenario, Stewart said Vigilant Triad provided installation emergency planners at DPTMS, the Directorate of Emergency Services, Directorate of Public Works, and other areas the opportunity to develop, step by step, a planned response in each situation.

"You learn that you just have to apply what the situation is, incorporate it into your day-to-day operations, and be able to resolve the situation," Stewart said. "Every year we exercise a chosen scenario and respond to that scenario and that threat. Having the exercise helps us to plan on how to go into (a situation), respond to it, and to recover from it."

The 2016 exercise also proved to be useful for future plans, Stewart said.

"This was a great exercise because we sent up a lot of requests for information from the staff," Stewart said.

"We were coming up with solutions and answers as we'd go through briefings, too. Or, we have an observer/controller (from Installation Management Command or elsewhere) who helped us think through a problem from an outside perspective."

Those requests for information helped build a good set of intelligence and operational requirements that needed to be addressed at the beginning of future crisis situations as they develop, Stewart said.

At the conclusion of each Vigilant Triad exercise, the Installation Emergency Operations Center staff and other workforce members from throughout the garrison gather for an after-action review of exercise events. The review forms the basis for updating and sharpening the Fort McCoy emergency-management plan.

"We learn about new things we want to incorporate," Stewart said. "In each exercise, you discover the nuances that a threat may pose, and you determine what the similarities are (to) other threats.

"We do this analysis each year to update our plan as we come out in the after-action review," Stewart said.
Vigilant Triad will continue to evolve. "(The exercise) is always a great discovery opportunity to find out what you don't know, and it helps you determine what questions you need to ask (for emergency-response situations)," he said.

For more information about Vigilant Triad, call 608-388-3120.

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