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150 New York National Guard members heading to Baltimore for disaster response drill

STAFF REPORTS

LATHAM, N.Y. -- One hundred and fifty New York Army National Guard Soldiers based in Kingston, Latham, Brooklyn and Niagara Falls will head to Baltimore, Maryland on May 6 to take part in a major disaster response exercise.

The exercise, known as Vigilant Guard, tests the ability of National Guard troops from several states to respond to a variety of incidents and support civilian agencies. It will run from May 7 to May 10. About 2,000 National Guard and active duty troops will participate in the four-day exercise.
The drill will involve the Maryland Emergency Management Agency and a number of county and local civilian responders as well.
The New York National Guard Soldiers are assigned to:
• The 104th Military Police Battalion Headquarters, based in Kingston, N.Y. provides command on site, 16 Soldiers will participate;
• The 222nd Chemical Company, based at Fort Hamilton, N.Y., operates the decontamination element, 75 Soldiers will participate;
• The 107th Airlift Wing, based at the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station, N.Y., operates operate high-tech satellite communications, 11 Airmen will participate:
And the 206th Military Police Company, based in Latham, N.Y., with 50 Soldiers, will provide command on site
They are part of a National Guard unit known as a Homeland Response Force, or HRF for short, which is trained to deal with chemical, biological and radiological weapons and materials.
HRF Soldiers and Airmen are trained to extract victims from a damaged building, decontaminate them and conduct medical triage. There are 10 HRFs, one for each Federal Emergency Management Agency region in the country.
While HRF Soldiers and Airmen focus on the chemical, radiological and biological contaminates in their training, they can also be used for search and rescue missions in natural disasters.
The exercise in Baltimore is built around a weather disaster. The drill will involve the Maryland Emergency Management Agency and a number of county and local civilian responders.
Airmen of the New York Air National Guard's 174th Attack Wing, based at Hancock Field Air National Guard Base in Syracuse, will also participate in the Vigilant Guard exercise.
The wing will deploy one of it's MQ-9 remotely piloted aircraft to Virginia, which is also participating in the exercise. The aircraft will be controlled from Syracuse and will conduct photo reconnaisance in support of disaster relief training operations being conducted in that state.
In December, members of the 174th flew to California and controlled MQ-9 aircraft providing aerial imagery of fire-fighthing efforts in Southern California.
This training mission will be similar, but the crew will remain in Syracuse, while the aircraft flys to the emergency location.
Vigilant Guard exercises are conducted four times a year by the National Guard Bureau and the United States Northern Command in conjunction with civilian first responders and local governments to improve emergency preparation, coordination response and recovery management.
The overall purpose of the mission is to be able to coordinate between federal, regional, local and civilian partners during domestic emergencies and catastrophic events.