Fort McCoy News Jan. 22, 2016

2016 Vigilant Triad exercise incorporates FEMA

BY SCOTT T. STURKOL
Public Affairs Staff

Fort McCoy and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Region V personnel teamed for the first time to establish a simulated Incident Support Base (ISB) operation on post during the 2016 Vigilant Triad exercise Jan. 12-15.

Vigilant Triad completes the Installation Management Command (IMCOM) annual requirement to conduct a full-scale exercise to refine and improve Fort McCoy's response to a local or regional all-hazards crisis. Such exercises are part of a continuing effort by the Department of Defense (DOD) to refine and improve emergency response to natural and man-made disasters.

Photo 1
Vehicles are lined up at the Fort McCoy coal yard on South Post simulating
a convoy of supplies to be processed by Federal Emergency Management Agency personnel during the Vigilant Triad exercise Jan. 12.
Photo by Greg Mason

The Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security (DPTMS) served as the lead Fort McCoy agency for the exercise. The exercise scenario required the installation staff to work with FEMA to coordinate the distribution of supplies or equipment to any affected area within FEMA's Region V, which is headquartered in Chicago. Region V includes Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Minnesota.

William Wooten, the FEMA Region V liaison to Fort McCoy staff during the exercise, said the interagency collaboration was months in the making. "Through some cooperation, collaboration, and planning, we were able to link our exercises together," he said.

In establishing and operating an ISB at Fort McCoy, more than a dozen FEMA personnel simulated bringing in vehicles and equipment to an area designated for FEMA use on post.

Wooten's team set up operations in the 2400 block at Fort McCoy with their main operations center in building 2411. He said the FEMA team had four main objectives for the exercise: validation of understanding of established security and procedures at a military installation, demonstrating an ability to account for and track resources, demonstrating an ability to surge a throughput of resources and commodities to an affected area, and demonstrating a unified FEMA/DOD structure.

Wooten said a new qualification system within FEMA requires personnel to complete their day-to-day duties and be deployable emergency managers, so emergency-manager training in the field was needed. They also wanted to build on their ability to establish a Federal Staging Area (FSA), which is similar to an ISB, but operated by regional FEMA leadership.

Practicing the FSA model is highly important, Wooten said. And with new people on the FEMA Region V team, doing some training at Fort McCoy made sense.

"This was a way of bringing most of (the team) together in the field under real conditions to get them experience, so that if we ever have to deploy them to a disaster, they wouldn't be seeing things for the first time," Wooten said. "I think they learned a lot (by seeing) how things work, especially in this weather. They learned how you think you might be doing one thing, and it turns out, it has to change because of the environment.

Photo 2
Federal Emergency Management Agency and Fort McCoy personnel coordinate an event during the exercise. Photo by Greg Mason

"They will take this learning experience with them, and we will have built a better capability in the future," he said.

DPTMS Director Brad Stewart said personnel from numerous Fort McCoy organizations participated, including DPTMS; Directorate of Public Works; Directorate of Emergency Services; Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare, and Recreation; Directorate of Human Resources; Resource Management Office; Network Enterprise Center; Logistics Readiness Center; and Mission and Installation Contracting Command-McCoy. "Those participating were heavily integrated and also key players in their own respect for their functional areas," he said.

Stewart also said the interagency cooperation was unprecedented.

"This is the first time we've had this much interagency involvement for this exercise," Stewart said. "My hat is off to FEMA Region V, as an interagency partner, to participate with the number of personnel they had here."

Stewart said Fort McCoy is capable of being a real-world host to an ISB or FSA because of its capacity.

"We have the ability to support any type of domestic operations, or man-made or natural disaster to the region, as long as we are not impacted by the catastrophe," he said.

The exercise also will have lasting effects for Fort McCoy and FEMA Region V.

"Everything that we agreed upon (before the exercise) was provided," Wooten said. "We got some good training, and I think we've started a good collaboration between FEMA Region V and the Fort McCoy staff. This is a partnership that is going last for quite some time."

Stewart added, "This (also) will benefit us in the long run, not only from a domestic-operations support aspect, but also from a training capacity and capability. Word will spread through other organizations that Fort McCoy is a great place to train with exercises like this, and anything else you want to accomplish can happen here."

As part of the exercise after-action review process, Fort McCoy and FEMA Region V will pursue a written agreement to formalize processes and procedures for an even faster response time.

"One of the intents is to have negotiated documents between FEMA Region V and Fort McCoy or to set up a series of meetings in the future that will lead to that effort," Wooten said.

For more information about Vigilant Triad and Fort McCoy emergency management, call 608-388-3120.

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