Kentucky soldiers undergo readiness training for terror attack
Kentucky soldiers were preparing for the worst today: a terror attack -- and troops are hoping their practice and readiness will save lives, should the unthinkable occur.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Kentucky soldiers were preparing for the worst Friday: a terror attack.
And troops are hoping their practice and readiness will save lives, should the unthinkable occur.
We've seen the horrific news coverage. Terror attacks stand as some of the most chilling, shocking and lasting memories in American history.
On Friday at the Boone Army National Guard Center in Frankfort, soldiers felt what it was like to respond to a terrorist attack.
"I never want to have to do this in my life, but I want to be ready when it happens," said Specialist Cameron Woolums.
The scenario for Specialist Woolums and the 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade is a nuclear explosion in downtown Pittsburgh. The troops set up a tent city, replicating operation in the field.
Each soldier was laser-focused on a specific job.
"I make maps -- or otherwise tactical decision aids -- that help commanders so they can plan their missions accordingly," explained Specialist Nekiya McNear.
"I maintain and troubleshoot network communication on the radios, satellites, and the computers," said Specialist Woolums.
It's all run from the "nerve center" -- an operations hub specific to aviation.
"The importance of this is if something bad has happened, looking for help is not where you want to be," said Col. Michael Stephens, of the 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade in the Kentucky Army National Guard. "We come in as a support role to all local first responders."
What happens in the nerve center turns into action in the air.
"We command and control helicopters, Black Hawks, Chinooks, the ability to haul and mostly evacuation," said Col. Stephens. "We do have medical evacuation."
The drill goes beyond Frankfort. The soldiers work in concert for a week with about 3,000 other people from National Guard units across the country, FEMA and the Department of Defense.
Specialist Woolums was feeling the pressure to get it right, because in those moments when we see evil at its worst, these are the people who rise to their best.
"It's very vital," Woolums said. "This is your practice for the big leagues."
This training is called a Vibrant Response Exercise -- and it only happens once a year.
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