63rd Theater Aviation Brigade provides ‘Vibrant Response’ at Camp Atterbury

Photos and story by 2nd Lt. Michael Reinersman, 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade Public Affairs Officer

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The 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade conducted their annual training this year in support of Exercise Vibrant Response at Camp Atterbury, Indiana, July 31- Aug. 7. Vibrant Response is a major field training exercise conducted by U.S. Northern Command and led by Army North. Service members and civilians from the military and other federal and state agencies throughout the country train to respond to a catastrophic domestic incident. As the joint forces land component command U.S. Northern Command, Army North coordinates timely federal military response to disasters in the homeland to help the American people in times of need. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by 2nd Lt. Michael Reinersman, 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade Public Affairs Officer)

CAMP ATTERBURY, Indiana – The City of Indianapolis was chosen as the site for a nuclear disaster during Vibrant Response 14. Vibrant Response is a U.S. Northern Command-sponsored field training exercise for chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high-yield explosive consequence management forces, and is designed to improve their ability to respond to catastrophic incidents.

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Approximately 5,500 military and civilian personnel from 28 U.S. states and territories took part in the largest confirmation exercise that the Department Of Defense conducts for its specialized response forces. Vibrant Response 14 used seven training areas in central and southern Indiana. Primarily, units trained at Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center near Edinburgh, Ind. The training event simulates a tiered response from military and federal agencies to a nuclear or biological disaster in the United States.

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The 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade Tactical Operations Center, also known as the “TOC Mahal” was constructed and fully operational in less than 24 hours when Soldiers of the 63rd TAB arrived July 31 for Exercise Vibrant Response at Forward Operating Base Night Hawk on Camp Atterbury Indiana. (U.S Army National Guard photo by 2nd Lt. Michael Reinersman, 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade Public Affairs Officer)

The 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade has participated in the last three Vibrant Response exercises as part of their validation requirements by their higher headquarters, U.S. Army North. The 63rd TAB based in Frankfort, KY is the command and control element of aviation assets to ensure that missions requiring aviation support happened. Missions’ like moving equipment, personnel, and medical evacuations, or MEDEVAC were all coordinated within 63rd TAB’s Tactical Operation Center. Better known as “TOC Mahal”. To create practicality and rigor to the exercise, the TOC was manned and operated 24 hours during the 8 day exercise window from July 31st to Aug 7th.

“I was proud of the Brigade’s team effort.” said Lt. Col Michael Stephens, Commander of the 63rd TAB. He added, “Everyone’s individual acts led to the Brigades overall success during the training exercise. We have continued to build on previous training exercises and we will continue to refine our skill sets to be prepared for any civil support needed during a disaster.”

Vibrant Response provided a wide variety of training experiences to Soldiers of the Kentucky National Guard. Kentucky National Guardsmen of the 1204th Aviation Support Battalion, based out of Burlington, Ky. and Indiana National Guard’s 38th Combat Aviation Brigade, out of Shelbyville, IN partnered on sling load operations. They moved 500 gallon water blivets to supply water to Soldiers at Forward Operating Base Night Hawk, Campy Atterbury for hydration, cleaning, and cooking purposes. “New pilots from flight school and Soldiers from both units are able to maximize their training opportunities by practicing their individual tasks together.” said pilot Maj. Travis Ward with the 38th CAB. The training demonstrated the National Guards capability to deliver food and fresh water during a disaster.

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Sgt. 1st Class. Paul Brooks, Sgt. Michael Rhynes and Pvt. Tamie Acklin with A. Co., 1204th Aviation Support Battalion, headquartered out of Burlington, Ky., connect a water blivet to a UH-60 Black Hawk during sling load operations for the unit’s annual training Aug. 5. The 1204th conducted their AT at Camp Atterbury, Indiana. The Indiana National Guard’s 38th Combat Aviation Brigade transported the water to Forward Operating Base Night Hawk located on Camp Atterbury for hydration, cleaning, and cooking purposes. (U.S Army National Guard photo by: 2nd Lt. Michael Reinersman, 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade Public Affairs Officer)

Refueling helicopters, trucks and generators was the 1204th ASB primary mission during the exercise. “We are working rotational shifts to give us the chance to train on different things,” said Petroleum Supply Specialist Pfc. Adam Watts with Alpha Company, 1204th Aviation Battalion.

“Most of us that deployed in 2011 have refueled over 3,000 aircraft. This exercise gives our new Soldiers the chance to get hands on experience,” said Staff Sgt. Dave Rinehart with the 1204th Alpha Company. “You can’t go wrong working around aircraft. I love this job.”

 

 

 

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