South Carolina National Guard
CLAY NATIONAL GUARD CENTER, Ga. – Five military officers from the Republic of Columbia were on hand to watch as the National Guard and civilian agencies honed their disaster response skills during Vigilant Guard exercises at the Clay National Guard Center in Marietta, Ga., on Mar. 28-30, 2017.
Throughout the exercise, the Colombian officers had a chance to interact with both the National Guard and civilian agency participants. The officers observed a simulated hazardous material spill at the Port of Savannah where the Florida National Guard’s 48th Civil Support Team responded with urban search and rescue training at the Guardians Center in Perry, Ga., and wrapped up their visit at the Georgia Emergency Management Agency and Georgia National Guard’s Joint Operations Center in Atlanta.
Colombian navy Capt. Gilberto Duran, director of Environment, Emergency and Disaster Attention, said the team touring Vigilant Guard saw everything they hoped to see.
“What we really found useful is how the Georgia Emergency Management Agency and the National Guard’s Joint Operations Center is organized,” Duran said. “We got to compare the effectiveness of the system and the bonus of the National Guard.”
The scenario for this exercise was a Category 3 hurricane struck the Georgia coast moving inland causing a wide path of destruction knocking out power and flooding.
U.S. Army Col. David S. Gayle, J3/Director of Military Support for the South Carolina National Guard led the team on the tour and was on hand to answer questions about the National Guard’s role in supporting state and local emergency management agencies.
“Having our partners from Colombia spend a week with us touring the Vigilant Guard venues in the state of Georgia was not only enlightening to the issues their nation faces, but we strengthened our partnership,” Gayle said. “We are looking at future events and ways we can include the Colombian military in our exercises. The more we can expose each other to the way we conduct missions and provide mutually meaningful feedback, the stronger our partnership will be as we work to galvanize our cooperation across all aspects of international civil-military affairs.”
Since the South Carolina National Guard’s State Partnership Program with the Republic of Colombia was launched in 2012, South Carolina has focused on establishing long-term relationships where Colombia and South Carolina can promote mutual interests and build lasting capabilities for both partners.
Vigilant Guard is a series of federally funded disaster-response drills conducted by National Guard units working with federal, state and local emergency management agencies and first responders.